Mon, March 05, 2012
China > Politics

Jittering over China’s military spending mirrors Cold War Mentality

2012-03-05 04:16:37 GMT2012-03-05 12:16:37(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Flexing muscles to act as a bully to intimidate those in weak line or those with different ideologies is nothing but a showcase of the Cold War Mentality. Now that the Cold War has long receded from the stage of history, its legacies lagged behind should never surface in today’s world scenario, which is undergoing a rapid and fundamental change.

Some foreign media, however, tried again to play up “China threat", which they said posed to the neiboring countries and the vicinity, hyping the story that China is boosting its defense budget and expanding its military presence in the region. China said Sunday it plans to raise its defense budget by 11.2 percent to 670 billion yuan (106.4 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012.

This year's draft defense budget is 67.6 billion yuan (10.7 billion U.S. dollars) more than the defense expenditure of 2011, said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of China's national legislature. His remarks came one day before the annual session of the National People's Congress, which sets out government policy for the coming year.

"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," Li told a press conference.

"China is committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," he 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, Li said.

It is a commonly accepted fact that China's military spending is dwarfed by that of the United States, at 725 billion U.S. dollars, and its per capita figure is also far less than that of the U.S.

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. "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," he added.

But earlier, a report by INS Jane, a European think tank, said China's military expenditures will increase from 119.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2011 to 238.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.

"I don't know where the report cited those figures," Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a regular press briefing in February, adding that China always stands for coordinated development between national defense and the economy.

China will not develop its military strength beyond national security demands and economic capability, and will not conduct an arms race with any country, Geng said.

At the same time, different voices also arise over where China’s increased military spending goes, some assuming the money would go to improving the military hardware.

“The satellite, or development of satellite, could be continued, and the new fighter jet development and so forth. Probably the priority would be the anti-access capability for developing the anti-access mission,” some suggested.

Presumably, they said an anti-access strategy would be aimed at interfering with the ability of other militaries to operate in nearby military theaters, as this defense budget is China's first since U.S. President Barack Obama launched an initiative to reinforce U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region and reassure allies that Washington will remain a key player there.

On the flip side, Chinese experts and military observers opined China's national defense spending has always been maintained at a moderate and sufficient level.

"Moderate" means China will not raise its military spending merely for the purpose of boosting scale, while "sufficient" means the spending has to meet necessary demand for national defense, said Major General Luo Yuan, a researcher with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Military Science Academy.

And Wen Bing, another researcher with the academy, said the moderate growth of China's defense budget reflects the composure of the Chinese government under the changing global strategic environment.

"In terms of defense spending, the Chinese government will not, as some foreign analysts suggest, make a drastic response to, or overreact to, the so-called 'worsening of global security'," Wen said.

On top of that, what’s noteworthy is, especially in today’s international circumstances, the socialism China has been adhering to is by no means an arch- rival absolutely irreconcilable with the West bloc in the backdrop of Cold War. Instead, socialism with Chinese characteristics is in line with the trend of economic development, embraced in the world market system. China’s socialist path is not a thinking system beclouded by the mindset of Cold War, but a living force devoted to constantly expanding and deepening the confluence of various interests from different domains and at varying levels, so as to build up a win-win structure and ensure a peaceful external environment for its own steady and sustained development.

Only when the Cold War Mentality were forgone, will one realize the vast stretch of the Pacific could and would embrace all the players, big or small, strong or weak. The globe as a whole shares the same aspiration to curb the re-emerging of Cold War mindset and promote the peaceful co-existence and development.

By Li Hongmei, Specially for Sina English

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