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Friday, 1 April 2011

China defense transparency

Military open to media scrutiny
By Cheng Guangjin and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

Beijing - Increased transparency on China's defense spending is not only a government initiative but also a result of a high level of media coverage, meaning that the claims made by some Western countries that China's military is shielded from public scrutiny are groundless, according to a top expert on military affairs.

"Now China's national defense expenditure is not only an issue dealt with by the government, lots of mainstream Chinese and other media organizations are carrying huge amounts of military information," Chen Zhou, from the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, also a member of the think tank behind China's White Paper on national defense, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
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For example, reports on the test flight of China's stealth fighter jet appeared on the Internet minutes after the aircraft's debut.

Beijing unveiled a 12.7 percent increase in its 2011 defense budget of 601.1 billion yuan ($91.4 billion) earlier this month.

Chen noted that China's defense expenditure as a proportion of its overall GDP, between 1.4 to 1.5 percent, was below the global average of between 2.5 and 4 percent. Statistics also showed that China's defense expenditure per soldier in 2009 was $30,600, compared with $481,000 in the United States, $410,400 in the United Kingdom and $172,700 in Japan.

"The increase in our defense budget is at an appropriate level. We have two guidelines when planning the defense budget, to meet the needs of both national defense and the national economy," said Chen.

The increase in defense expenditure in recent years is actually to make up for losses in the 1980s and 1990s, when China focused on economic construction at the expense of military development, Chen noted.

China recently allowed more family members of military personnel to join their spouses, which would help end the separation of nearly 100,000 service persons from their spouses.

The military will make efforts to provide housing and employment for family members, which means that young couples, even if living in the most expensive Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, will get government-subsidized apartments.

China said some Western nations make a habit of attacking China by criticizing its increased defense spending.

"Such accusations are unacceptable. The critics either do not respect the facts, or they do it for other reasons," he said.

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