China says defense spending increase to slow again

US President Donald Trump has proposed a 10 per cent jump in defence spending this year, upgrading the US military's hardware and manpower.

Fu said the defense figure - which compared with last year's 7.6 percent hike - will account for around 1.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The exact figure was to be provided by Premier Li Keqiang during his address at the beginning of the congress' opening session Sunday morning.

She said the PLA faced daunting tasks in protecting China's territorial sovereignty and maintaining regional security, and preventing foreign forces from intervening in the South China Sea disputes.

Ms Fu yesterday assuaged fears over China's military capability. China, being the second biggest defense spender in the world, pales in comparison to the United States.

Fu did not specify what "meddling" she was referring to, but Beijing's increasingly assertive stance towards its claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea have stirred alarm in the region and prompted criticism from Washington.

The country said it has no plans to militarize the islands, but defended its right to build so-called necessary military facilities for defensive purposes. "But in fact there is a still a huge gap in ability between the USA and China, which is still a developing country".

"Although the two sessions will be mostly focused on domestic issues rather than foreign policies, this year is special because China is now embroiled in a restive environment and Trump is seen a major factor in this instability", Deng said.

Addressing global concerns over China's growing military strength, Fu said: "Look at the past decade or so; there have been so many conflicts, even wars, around the world resulting in serious, large numbers of casualties and loss of property, so many refugees destitute and homeless".

Trump has proposed to increase spending by $54 billion, a total closing in close to $600 billion.

"The US defence budget has increased by 10 per cent and we need at least a double-digit increase".

Chinese defence spending would stay at around 1.3 per cent of GDP, she added.

China is also dealing with increased tensions in the Korean Peninsula, where the USA and South Korea are preparing to deploy a missile-defence system that China has long criticized.

Fu went on to say that concerns over navigational freedom in the South China Sea are misleading and uncalled for.

"Now the trend over the disputes is very clear, China and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have returned to the track of consultation and negotiations and the situation in the South China Sea is calming down", Fu said. "There's a huge difference between China and the United States in capability".

For countries concerned about China's military might and how it intends to use it, the Vice Minister responded that over the past decades and more the world has experienced crisis, leading to an increase in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and wars, however, none of these sitiations were caused by China.

"Fundamentally, this is about the U.S. worrying that China could catch up and surpass the USA in its ability", Fu said.

"As to how to the situation develops in future, that depends on USA intentions".

  • Fernando Stephens