HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Sunday, March 04, 2007

China to Increase Military Spending

BEIJING, China - China announced Sunday it will increase military spending at a sharply higher rate this year, budgeting a rise of nearly 18 percent, and a senior U.S. official immediately called for more clarity on what the expenditures are for.

The official, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, told a news conference at the end of a maiden visit to Beijing in his new post that the Bush administration is dissatisfied with China's unwillingness to share such information.

"We think it's important in our dialogue that we understand what China's plans and intentions are," he said.

The government's military budget announcement and Negroponte's swift appeal for more transparency highlighted a particularly uneasy point in what has become a broad, close and increasingly important U.S.-China relationship.

In his new job, Negroponte has been assigned the lead role in managing those ties, a mission he emphasized by paying a call on Chinese officials so soon after his swearing in. Apparently by coincidence, the Chinese government chose the same moment to announce that its declared military expenditures for 2007 will amount to $44.94 billion, up by 17.8 percent.

Pentagon experts have estimated the declared total is about a third of actual military spending if equipment purchases are taken into account. China has been steadily increasing military expenditures for more than a decade, seeking to recover from a long lag compared to other major powers. But the figure for 2007 drew attention because it represented the biggest jump in several years.

In reaction to the spending climb and resulting improvements in China's forces, the United States has regularly urged China to open its ultrasecretive military to more scrutiny and share its strategic outlook with Washington to avoid misunderstandings in the Pacific. The outgoing U.S. Pacific Command chief, Adm. William J. Fallon, was particularly active in seeking to organize more contacts up and down the two military hierarchies.

Negroponte said he, too, will push for more military contacts. "It's not so much the budget and the increases as it is understanding these things through dialogue and contacts," he said.

A spokesman for the National People's Congress, the legislature that opens its annual session Monday, said military expenditures were rising to cover increased outlays for better training and salaries in the 1.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army and for benefits to help some 200,000 soldiers shed from the ranks over the last several years. Reducing low-ranking troops and improving technological training for those who remain have been major parts of the country's long-range military improvement program.

The spokesman, Jiang Enzhu, said China's military expenditures do not represent a threat to other countries because President Hu Jintao's government has vowed to use the military only in "defensive operations." He added, "China is committed to following the path of peaceful development, and it has adopted a defensive posture."

But the official New China News Agency quoted the military's General Logistics Department head, Liao Xilong, as saying the extra money also would go to improving China's ability to wage high-tech warfare, to defend its information systems against jamming by a potential enemy and to coordinate among land, air and sea forces.

"The present-day world is none to peaceful," he said, according to the agency. "To protect national security and territorial integrity we must adequately increase spending on military modernization."

Underlying much of China's determination to build a more modern military -- and of the U.S. call for transparency -- is the risk of conflict over Taiwan, which sits 100 miles off the mainland.

The island has been self-ruled since Nationalist forces fled there in 1949 as Mao Zedong's Communist troops took power. But in Beijing's eyes, it remains a Chinese province that must at some point return to the fold. The government here has vowed to use force as a last resort if Taiwan were to move decisively toward formal independence.

Negroponte said Chinese officials raised with him the administration's recent decision to sell Taiwan 400 AIM and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, charging the $421 million deal violated U.S. commitments to a one-China policy. In response, Negroponte said, he emphasized Washington's adherence to the one-China principle but reminded them of legislation mandating U.S. help for Taiwan's defense.
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org