Fu Ying, spokesperson for the fifth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), takes questions from Chinese and foreign journalists during a press conference on the session on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Weng Qiyu from People’s Daily)
Fu Ying, spokesperson for the fifth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), takes questions from Chinese and foreign journalists during a press conference on the session on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Weng Qiyu from People’s Daily)

China’s defense budget will increase by around 7 percent in 2017, Fu Ying, spokesperson for the two-week 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) annual session told a press conference on Saturday in Beijing. The new increase is the country’s slowest defense budget rise in recent years.

Fu Ying, spokesperson for the fifth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), takes questions from Chinese and foreign journalists during a press conference on the session on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Weng Qiyu from People’s Daily)
Fu Ying, spokesperson for the fifth session of China’s 12th National People’s Congress (NPC), takes questions from Chinese and foreign journalists during a press conference on the session on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Weng Qiyu from People’s Daily)
China’s budget expense has always been a spotlight of foreign media. Before the start of this year’s NPC and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also known as the “two sessions”, foreign media conducted rounds of analysis and predictions in this subject.

Nikkei, in its article published on March 1, said that Donald Trump’s proposal to increase defense budget in his presidential campaign may set off Russia and China to raise spending.

At the end of February, the US-headquartered Time magazine predicted that in the new defense budget drafted by China at the “two sessions”, China may devote more resource into strengthening navy power.

When Fu announced the specific number, most media responded calmly and rationally. As AFP reported on Saturday, the 7-percent-increase is the lowest rate in recent years and China’s military expense is still much less than that of the US.

Deutsche Welle said on its website that it is a mild move for China to rise the defense budget by 7 percent.

Though in regard of the absolute value, China’s defense spending is only second to the US in the world, the number is only 24.6 percent of the latter. The per capita defense cost of China is only 1/18 of the US, 1/9 of the UK, 1/7 of France and 1/5 of Russia and Japan respectively.

The military expenditure per capita of China is only 13.58 percent of the US, 22.98 percent of the UK, 22.8 percent of France and 14.3 percent of Germany.

China’s defense expense, though presenting a long-term growing trend, only accounts for 1.3 of its GDP, and stayed at that level for years. Such percentage is lower than most of the countries in the world.

The defense spending of major countries usually makes up 2 to 5 percent of their GDP. In the US, the figure is around 4 percent and Russia allocates 4 to 5 percent of its GDP for national defense.

Analysts stressed that as a major country with 9.6 million square kilometer of land territory, 3 million square kilometer of maritime territory and an almost 1.4 billion population, China has every reason to appropriately increase its military spending.

To meet the demands for economic development, it is reasonable to moderately increase military expenditure as long as it conforms the strategy of simultaneous development of national defense construction and economic construction, they added.

The average growth rate of China’s defense expenditure stands at 12.43 percent in recent years, achieving simultaneous growth with fiscal revenue.

“Against the background of profound changes in national strength, security environment and global strategic arena, China’s defense budget increase is reasonable and sustainable, ”Chen Zhou, Deputy of the National People’s Congress and researcher of Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said in an interview on the sidelines of the “two sessions”.

A social media affiliated to People’s Daily published an article on Saturday to analyze China’s budget cost, said that the rising number is not high at all.

Chinese netizens commented with agreement. One netizen replied that what Fu said at the Munich Security Conference is right. It is wrong to ask US allies to keep their defense budget above 2 percent of the GDP while saying China is spending too much in military.

“Double standard is not acceptable! ” the web user stressed.

By Zhang Mengxu from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh

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