China says it is increasing defense spending,
this year, to raise the salaries of the world's largest standing army. The
announcement Wednesday, came at a news conference to preview the annual
legislative session, which begins Thursday.
Li Zhaoxing is the spokesman
for China's parliament, the National People's Congress, not the spokesman for
the Ministry of Defense.
But, in what has become a tradition in recent
years, the NPC spokesman announced China's proposed military budget.
says the defense budget is included in the draft national budget that is
submitted to the legislature for examination and approval.
China's military spending in 2009 will increase nearly 15 percent, to $70
The spokesman describes the increase as "modest" and said the
double-digit growth will not pose a threat to any other country. He says much of
the extra money will go to salaries for China's more than two-million troops and
be spent on raising capabilities in what he described as "non-warfare military
Li also said the additional spending is needed to maintain
China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China has maintained its
threat to use military force against Taiwan, if Taipei declares formal
independence. Beijing considers the separately-governed island a renegade
The spokesman says China's military expenditures are no secret.
He says, since 2007, China has submitted annual military expense reports to the
Li says there is no such thing as "hidden military
expenditure" in China.
The United States, Japan and other countries have
long expressed concern about China's military build-up.
concluded Sino-American military talks last week, U.S. Defense Department
official David Sedney told reporters Washington sees nothing wrong with China
modernizing its military. At the same time, he said the U.S. government just
wants more clarity about the Chinese government's intentions.