The Ministry of National Defense on Friday refuted Japanese media reports that China's actual military spending is 1.5 times higher than the country's 2010 defense budget cited in March.
Japanese media, including Kyodo News and Japan Today reported Thursday that China's military spending will total 788 billion yuan ($116.4 billion) in 2010, about 1.5 times higher than the country's March 2010 defense budget figures.
However, an official with the Ministry of National Defense told China Daily that the report is "groundless".
"China's defense budget and spending is highly restricted and controlled, and there are no 'so called' hidden military expenditures as implied in the Japanese media," said the official who declined to reveal his name.
Citing unnamed sources, the Japanese reports said China's military expenditures are expected to double to 1.41 trillion yuan ($208 billion) in 2020 and triple to 2.30 trillion yuan ($339.4 billion) in 2030, bolstering the assertion that the country's military expansion is likely to continue.
The reports forecast the spending will further increase to about 5 trillion yuan ($737.9 billion) in 2050.
The forecast is based on the assumption that China's gross domestic product will grow at 6 percent a year, on average, from 2010 to 2020, 5 percent from 2021 to 2030 and around 4 percent from 2031 to 2050.
China's GDP is expected to grow more than 9 percent in 2010, higher than previous forecasts, so military spending this year may also increase, said the report.
In addition, China is allegedly allocating a growing amount of military expenditure to boost its navy and air force - including the manufacture of aircraft carriers - in an effort to gain a leading military position in Asia, the Japanese reports stated.
It was not the first time that overseas media has played up the issue of China's military spending in recent years. China's military spending has risen by more than 10 percent every year but still fell short of the level claimed by major countries.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in its 2010 yearbook, said worldwide military spending almost doubled in the past decade to $1.53 trillion in 2009, despite the global financial crisis.
The think tank said that global military spending last year rose 5.9 percent in real terms compared to 2008. The US accounted for more than half of that increase.
Senior Chinese military officials said that defense expenditure of China was mainly used to improve military life and to ensure military research, as well as weapons procurement.
Representing a sharp drop of about 15 percent in 2009, military spending in 2010 registered surprisingly low growth, with the 532.1 billion yuan ($77.95 billion) defense budget for the 2010 fiscal year reflecting an annual increase of 7.5 percent, the first time for the growth to be under 10 percent since 1989.
Senior Chinese officers and analysts attribute this scenario to a difficult financial year.
According to Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for China's supreme legislative organ, the National People's Congress (NPC), "China's limited military power will be solely used for the purpose of safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity. This will not pose a threat to any country."
In accordance with China's Budget Law and National Defense Law, each year the defense budget is listed in the draft national budget and submitted to the NPC for examination and approval.
In 2007, the Chinese government formally joined the UN standardized instruments for reporting military expenditures and has since then submitted reports to the United Nations every year.
There is no such a thing as "hidden" military expenditure in China, Li stressed.