Each year when China’s top legislature and advisory body meet in their annual sessions in Beijing, China’s military spending will never be missed by the Western media as a most reliable topic for stories peddling the theory about China’s military threat. Moreover, any story on this topic will surely get a front-page headline. How come that, one may ask. The answer is simple: Western journalists look at China with three ‘secret’ tools: amasthenic lens, magnifying glasses, and colored spectacles.
China Is Fully Justified to Increase Its Military Spending
These people know only too well, of course, that most countries in the world have a military budget. They love, however, to direct their amasthenic lens to China only. Let’s look at the military budgets made public by some countries for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. In terms of value, the US military budget comes to as much as US$662 billion, while China’s is just around US$106 billion. In terms of growth rate, India will spend 17 per cent more, while China will see a rise of merely 11.2 per cent. We really wonder why no one comes to point to the US or India as a military threat.
In the previous fiscal year, China’s military spending stood at US$96.5 billion. In its appraisal report on China’s military strength, however, the US put the figure at US$160 billion. China has never seen the annual growth of its military spending going above 18 per cent in all these years except for 2009. Some Western think tanks have groundlessly alleged, however, that China’s military spending has kept going up by more than 18.6% annually during the past decade.
The third ‘secret’ tool valued by these Westerners is colored spectacles, for which they would rather die than believe in any of China’s military spending figures, no matter how hard China tries to keep its military budget transparent. China joined the UN Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures in as early as 2007, and has remained a law-abiding member, as evidenced by its annual reporting of breakdown military spending to the UN. Also, it compiles its annual military budget compiled in line with its State Budget Law and National Defense Law and submits it to the National People’s Congress for review and approval, and report the execution of the previous year’s military spending to the National People’s Congress for examination when the Congress meets in its annual session in the first quarter of the following year. Also, China subjects its military spending to supervision by audit authorities, and publishes a national defense white paper every two years to inform the international community of the absolute and relative figures of its military spending. Still, however, some people would keep looking at China with colored spectacles. No effort by China to defend itself will come of any avail. Submit or suffer under the label of a military threat. There is no other alternative.
Who poses the real threat, anyway? China has never seized a single inch of another country or region’s territory. What it has seen, on the contrary, is its reefs and isles being occupied and its resources being plundered by others. Isn’t it justified to spend more on its military for the sake of keeping its territory intact? Has China ever staged any military exercise off the coast of another country or carried out any close reconnaissance of another country? Isn’t it justified to carry out military exercises on its own land or territorial waters? The international community has been urging China to shoulder greater global responsibilities and offer more public products. Can it fulfill all these obligations without sufficient military spending?
As is known to all, China is a country subject to a great variety of natural disasters. It needs money to deal with emergencies and disasters and provide relief. Also, prices have kept soaring in recent years. Shouldn’t the Chinese army be duly compensated for the inflation? It has been a hard fact that every coin the Chinese army gets is meant for maintenance of peace and prevention of war. What’s wrong with China to add a new weight to the scale of peace by increasing its military spending?
Some have alleged that China’s military budget has outgrown its demand for self-defense. Well, let’s look at some figures provided by a military scholar. According to its 6th Census, China had a population of 1.37 billion (excluding Taiwan’s population) by November 1, 2010. The US population, meanwhile, stood at 315 million by 7 o’clock of October 17, 2011, EST. China’s total territory is 9.5967 million square kilometers, as compared to the US territory of 9.629091 million square meters. A calculation based on the 1: 6.4438 middle rate between the US dollar and the Chinese yuan that year, China spent US$68.09 to protect each of its citizens on the average, while the US average was US$2,201.5873. As for their spending earmarked to protect each square kilometer of land, the Chinese figure stood at US$9.720.3671, while the US figures came to US$75,292.673. The big gap tells where real threats will ferment.
To speak the truth, there are only a handle of countries trumpeting the theory about China’s military threat. There is something common between these countries: without crying wolf or naming an imaginary enemy, they will lose the engine driving their development and feel uncomfortable. As a solution, they would look around for find a ‘foe’ or imagine some source of threats. It is precisely against such a backdrop that China has fallen into their prey.
For all the explanations and reasoning by China, these countries simply would not be convinced. Instead, they have chosen to start a wave to foul China’s reputation. Go as they wish, then. China will keep to its own path. Strengthening of its national defense is the established duty of a sovereign country, and does not need to be tailored to the likes or dislikes of any other country. Mountains thrust skyward and rivers flow eastward. You can never change that, can you?
Major General Luo Yuan is Member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Executive Director and Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Society of Military Science.
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