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China to Boost Military Spending - 2004-03-06

China says it is boosting military spending by more than 11 percent. The announcement came on the second day of the annual session of the National People's Congress, where the issue of Taiwan has been high on the agenda. China's Finance Minister Jin Renqing told delegates the additional $2.6 billion in military spending is meant boost combat readiness.

The announcement came amid tensions over upcoming Presidential elections in Taiwan - which China regards as a part of its territory. China is afraid the poll, and a referendum that will accompany it, could be a move by the self-governed island toward independence.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told reporters at the Congress Saturday that China will step up efforts toward unification, and warned against anyone trying to split Taiwan and the mainland.

Mr. Li says there is only one China, and Taiwan is a part of it.

Mr. Li did not mention the United States by name, but he said Taiwan remains, in Beijing's view, the biggest issue in Sino-U.S. relations. China has often criticized the United States for selling weapons to Taiwan.