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Experts explain five key issues on China's military expenditure in 2016

(Source: China Military Online)   2016-03-07

BEIJING, March 7 (ChinaMil) -- Fu Ying, spokesperson for the fourth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), said on March 4, 2016, that China's national defense budget will increase by 7-8% in 2016, a slower growth than in previous years.

Why is the national defense budget growth reduced this year? In which areas will it be used? How to manage and use the budget? Major General Chen Zhou, an NPC deputy and researcher with the PLA Academy of Military Science (AMS), Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, a member of Chinese People's Political and Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and military expert Major General Luo Yuan gave authoritative answers to those widely concerned questions in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on March 4, 2016.

Military expenditure growth in reasonable range

"The 7-8% growth in military expenditure is consistent with China's demand for national defense construction and the level of economic and social development." Chen Zhou said, "having increased at two-digit rate for many years in a row, the military expenditure growth slows down to one digit this year, which is sound and appropriate."

The Chinese government has determined a rational scale of military expenditure and managed and used it according to the law on national defense, the guideline that national defense construction should be coordinated with economic construction and the requirement that it should be consistent with the national defense demand and economic development level.

According to Chen Zhou, "as China's economy and overall national strength develop by leaps and bounds today, we have to fully consider its key security needs and pay close attention to the direction and amount of national defense demand and budget, so as to provide a stronger security guarantee for national development."

"China has the world's second largest GDP, so we are economically capable of increasing the military expenditure by a large margin despite the downward pressure," said Luo Yuan, "but China has adhered to the principle of rationality and sufficiency."

"Rationality means we cannot blindly pursue a large scale of national defense input, and sufficiency means national defense input must meet the basic needs for national defense construction." According to Luo Yuan, this complies with China's consistent guideline that national defense construction should be coordinated with economic construction.

Military expenditure a "rigid demand"

"Military expenditure is a nation's 'rigid demand'," Chen Zhou held that China has maintained the appropriate growth of military expenditure mainly for the following four considerations.

First, it meets the new requirement for safeguarding national security and development interests. China is in the critical stage of evolving from a big country to a strong power, when it faces diverse and complicated security threats and unprecedented risks and challenges.

The geo-strategic competition in Asia Pacific is increasingly fierce, disputes over territorial and maritime rights and interests are getting more heated, regional situation is full of uncertainties, terrorist, secessionist and extreme activities are rampant, and security risks in overseas interests such as energy and resources, strategic routes, citizens and legal entities are escalating.

Second, it meets the new requirement for a new military revolution in the world. The new military revolution is proceeding in depth, and warfare is increasingly IT-based. The development of weapon equipment, cultivation of emerging combat forces, realistic military training and fostering of new-type high-caliber military talents are areas that military input is focused on.

Third, it meets the new requirement for deepening the national defense and military reform. As a comprehensive revolution, deepening the national defense and military reform involves a wide range of aspects including the military scale and structure, formation of troops, cultivation of new-type military talents, policy system, military-civilian integration, and the commanding and management system as well as structure of the armed police. All of them need more material support.

Fourth, it meets the new requirement for safeguarding regional and world peace. With China's growing overall national strength and international influence, the Chinese military has taken a larger part in international peacekeeping, anti-terrorism and humanitarian missions.

It has assigned a peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan and a medical detachment to fight Ebola in West Africa, it carried out extensive search and rescue for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and evacuated Chinese and foreign citizens trapped in Yemen, it has assigned more than 20 taskforces for escort missions and carried out more than 40 international emergency humanitarian missions...The Chinese military is undertaking more and more international responsibilities.

Material support for building a strong military through reform

China is implementing the national defense and military reform in a comprehensive and profound way. Military experts believe that appropriately increasing the military expenditure can provide the necessary material support for building a strong military through reform.

According to Chen Zhou and Luo Yuan, military expenditure is important for building a strong military through reform for the following four reasons.

First, it can help optimize the scale and structure of weapon equipment. National defense input is needed to transform and upgrade military technologies, upgrade and replace old equipment, and develop new-type weapon and equipment.

Second, it can help improve the military scale and structure and the troops' organization. This round of reform concerns the arrangement for cadres and settlement for surplus personnel. Since a large number of cadres will no longer serve in the military system, comprehensive and thorough assurance policies and measures shall be put in place.

Third, it can help promote the reform of the military HR system and logistic support system.

Fourth, it can help foster new-type military talents. Military expenditure has to increase in order to adjust and improve the scale and structure of military academies, establish the new-type military talent cultivation system integrating academic education, military training and occupational education, uplift the level of realistic training, create realistic training environment, and carry out confrontational and ocean-going training.

China's national defense input on a low level in general

"In the almost 40 years since we launched the reform and opening up, China has upheld the principle that national defense construction must follow, serve and coordinate with economic development, and has kept its national defense input on a reasonable and appropriate scale." According to Chen Zhou, China's military expenditure remains on a low level compared with other big nations in the world even though it has increased a little in recent years.

Chen Zhou pointed out that China's military expenditure is quite small either in terms of its percentage of GDP or the per capita amount among nationals and servicemen.

In the past decade, China's military expenditure accounted for 1.33% of GDP on average, much lower than the world average of 2.6%. In 2015, China's annual military expenditure was 886.898 billion yuan, only 24% of that of the United States, its per capita military expenditure among nationals was 648.40 yuan, which was 1/18 of that in the United States, 1/9 of Britain and 1/4 of Japan, and its per capita military expenditure among servicemen was 385,600 yuan, 14.34% of that in the United States, 35.78% of Japan and 22.13% of Britain.

Strategic guideline of active defense unchanged

At the two sessions every year, people with ulterior motives always use military expenditure as an excuse to hype up the so-called "China threat" theory.

"People making those remarks have evil intentions." Yin Zhuo said that China has suffered severe suppression and invasion in modern times, so when it grows rich and strong today, it knows very well how valuable peace is and would never invade or threaten another country. "Seeking dominance with military forces isn't in China's sustainable interests."

Luo Yuan held that anyone not wearing colored glasses can see that China has always insisted on the path of peaceful development and never engaged in arms race or military expansion.

"Whether a nation constitutes any threat to other nations doesn't depend on its military power, but on what internal and external policies it implements." According to Chen Zhou, China's national nature, fundamental interests, diplomatic policies and development path decide that we won't take the old path that "a strong country is bound to seek hegemony" adopted by western powers in the past, but will forge ahead along the path of peaceful development unswervingly.

Editor:Zhang Tao
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