CHINA’S MILITARY AMBITIONS
Still, China’s defence spending is contained at about 5.4 percent of total expenditure, up from 5.3 percent last year, and remains at about one-fifth of the Pentagon’s outlays. But even with its worries about domestic problems, Beijing has become increasingly assertive on the world stage.
Wen said the government “should accelerate the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces ... (and) should resolutely uphold China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and ensure its peaceful development”.
China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011 and its launch of a fledgling aircraft carrier - both trials of technologies needing years more of development.
Beijing is also building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles as part of its naval modernisation, and has tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.
China has repeatedly said the world has nothing to fear from its military spending which is needed for legitimate defensive purposes, and that the money spent on the PLA pales in comparison with U.S. defence expenditure.
The Pentagon’s base budget under the current funding mechanism is $534 billion.
“It’s not good news for the world that a country as large as China is unable to protect itself,” parliament spokeswoman Fu Ying said on Monday. “China’s peaceful foreign policies and its defensive military policies are conducive to security and peace in Asia.”
Asian neighbours, however, have been nervous about Beijing’s expanding military, and this latest double-digit rise could reinforce disquiet in Japan, India, Southeast Asia and self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.