Spotlight: China's defense budget increase "eclipsed" by U.S.

Huang Panyue

BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China's announcement of raising its defense budget by about 7 percent from the previous year has drawn attention from Western media, which called the increase "the lowest since 2010."

The Associated Press (AP) reported on China's defense budget rise, saying it continued "a trend of lowered growth ... despite regional tensions over the South China Sea and other issues."

Calling the increase a "relatively modest spending increase," AP said: "This year's budget could mark the third consecutive year of declines in defense spending growth rates."

The budget grew by 7.6 percent last year and 10.1 percent in 2015.

With the growth, China's total defense budget for 2017 would reach about one trillion yuan (145 billion U.S. dollars), yet "it still lags far behind the U.S. President Donald Trump has asked for a 10 percent increase in U.S. defense spending this year, adding 54 million U.S. dollars to the budget that topped 600 billion dollars last year," the AP said.

The Cable News Network (CNN) echoed AP by calling the budget rise "the smallest increase in seven years." It said: "China's defense spending is eclipsed by the United States, which in 2015 accounted for 36 percent of all military spending worldwide."

The BBC and the RT also noted the lower increase of China's military budget this year. "This is the lowest increase in the Chinese military budget since 2010," the RT said.

The Wall Street Journal reported the slowdown in growth of China's defense spending with the title "China eases foot off gas on military spending."

The Washington Post on March 4 published an article on its website entitled "As Trump pushes for bigger U.S. defense budget, China slows growth rate of its military spending."

According to the article, the United States "spends far more on defense, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of gross domestic product."

China will spend 1.3 percent of its GDP on the military this year, according to Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the two-week 12th National People's Congress (NPC) annual session that opened here on Sunday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has estimated that China in 2015 spent 1.9 percent of its GDP on the military, compared to 3.3 percent for the United States, the Washington Post said.

The paper also quoted Chinese military experts as saying that a rise in defense spending was part of a longstanding effort to modernize the Chinese military, not to counter the United States.

"The army's equipment is being upgraded," Chinese military expert Zhao Chu said. "China's army is still in the progress of military modernization."

The newspaper also warned that "the U.S. administration's tough talks, combined with new plans for a major rise in U.S. military spending, have deepened fears of conflict."




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