Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), attends the news conference on the Fifth Session of the 11th NPC at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 4, 2012 (XINHUA)
Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), when answering a British ITV journalist's question concerning China's rising defense budget at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 4, said, "The limited military strength of China is solely for safeguarding its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will not pose a threat to any country."
Li said, "The Chinese Government follows the principle of coordinating defense development with economic development. It sets the country's defense spending according to the requirements of national defense and the level of economic development."
China plans to raise its defense budget by 11.2 percent to 670 billion yuan ($106.35 billion) in 2012, 67.6 billion yuan ($10.73 billion) more than the defense expenditure of 2011.
Li said, "In recent years, in order to safeguard China's national sovereignty, security and development interests and to adapt to the requirements of military reform with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese Government has maintained reasonable and appropriate growth in defense spending on the strength of rapid economic and social development and the steady increase of fiscal revenues."
During the last three years since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China's gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure showed year-on-year growth of 14.5 percent and 20.3 percent respectively, but the country's defense expenditure only grew by 13 percent, according to Li. He also noted that the share of defense spending in China's GDP dropped from 1.33 percent in 2008 to 1.28 percent in 2011, and that in China's fiscal expenditure dropped from 6.68 percent in 2008 to 5.53 percent in 2011.
The Chinese Government will make strict regulations for allocating military spending in accordance with the requirements of such laws and regulations as National Defense Law and Budget Law. Every year the defense budget, which is included in the national budget draft, is examined and ratified by National People's Congress (NPC). China's military spending mainly comprises the living expenditures of service people, expenses for training and maintenance, and spending on equipment. The costs for research, experimentation, procurement, repair, transport and storage of all weapons and equipment, including new types of weapons, are included in the defense budget that is published every year, Li said.
"China is committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," Li said. Compared to other major countries, China's military spending is low given its population of 1.3 billion, vast land area and long coastlines. While China's military spending amounted to 1.28 percent of its GDP in 2011, that of the United States, Britain and other countries all exceed 2 percent, said Li.