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China's defense splurge good for world peace: state media

BEIJING/WASHINGTON -- The latest double-digit increase to China's defense budget serves world peace and is no threat to anyone, state media argued Thursday after the 12.2 percent spending hike raised alarms in Japan.

“China has no intention of overturning the current international security pattern,” the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial. “China will never seek to grab hegemony.”

The government-run China Daily said in its editorial: “World peace needs a militarily stronger China,” adding that narratives which put China in a “bully's role” were “completely against the truth.”

On Wednesday, the opening day of the Communist-controlled National People's Congress (NPC) legislative meeting, Beijing announced a rise in the People's Liberation Army budget for 2014 to 808.23 billion yuan (US$132 billion).

US, Japan Question China intentions

Beijing's growing military expenditures and capabilities have raised worries in Asia and the U.S., and Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Wednesday that its lack of transparency on spending “has become a matter of concern for the international community, including Japan.”

Japan's liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper noted Thursday that Beijing's defense spending was “triple” that of Tokyo.

“China's military expansion is not stopping,” it said in an editorial. “What is the purpose of this accelerating military expansion? It's no surprise that the international community has strong concerns.”

The conservative mass circulation Yomiuri warned that “the rapid military buildup under Xi Jinping will amplify the 'China threat' theory.”

The U.S. Pacific commander voiced concern Wednesday over China's intentions.

Several lawmakers questioned Adm. Samuel Locklear about U.S. ability to contend with a rising China and sustain a “pivot” to Asia amid growing pressure on the U.S. defense budget.

Locklear noted China's spending increase, and added that the 12.2 percent rise is “just what we can see.”

He told the House Armed Services Committee that there has been a slow and steady growth in the U.S.-China military relationship, and that the U.S. wants China to provide a positive contribution to regional security. But he said China's recent activities were calling into question how it will proceed.

“What's frustrating is what's happening in their own backyard as it relates to their relations with some of our allies,” Locklear said, citing China's “ambiguous” territorial claims in the South China Sea and its declaration of an air defense information zone over the East China Sea, in an encompassing airspace above Japanese-controlled islands also claimed by China.

“Whether the (Chinese) military will rise, I think that's a given. It will. The question is: is it transparent, what is it used for, is it cooperating in the larger security environment with neighbors?” he said.

House and Senate committees on Wednesday were quizzing U.S. military commanders about budget requests for 2015.

Republican Sen. John McCain took aim at the administration for presenting a budget “that constrains us in a way which is unprecedented since previous times.” He cited remarks reportedly made by a senior defense official Tuesday that budget cuts mean the “pivot” can't happen — comments the administration quickly rolled back.

While Locklear acknowledged the difficulty of maintaining the naval presence the U.S. needs, he predicted China would not be able to threaten American global military pre-eminence for a long time. He said he was most concerned by China's introduction of military capabilities apparently aimed at thwarting the U.S. ability to defend its allies in the region.

1 Comment
March 7, 2014    legerweck@
Curious how China promotes its relentless military expansion as a force for peace and stability, out of one side of their mouth. Yet out of the other side, they insist that anyone fishing 80 km off their own country's coast (where they've likely been fishing for 5000 years), and 1800 km off the southern coast of China, must first receive permission from China. They must think we're all utter fools.
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