Since China announced its defense budget for 2017 at the ongoing two sessions this month, accusations on the country's lack of transparency about its military capabilities have been swirling in the Japanese media. China's defense budget is projected to grow at 7 percent this year, amounting to merely 1.3 percent of its GDP. Although the growth rate remains low, compared to a roughly 10 percent increase in US military spending proposed by President Donald Trump, Japan and other Western countries poured suspicion and scorn on China's military budget plan as usual.
Many Japanese media outlets hyped that China's military spending is in reality larger than the announced figure. According to Sankei Shimbun, Fumio Kishida, Japan's Foreign Minister, claimed the international community is widely concerned with China's lack of military transparency. There are no grounds for the speculation and accusations, but they could be used to fabricate the theory of the "China threat," making China a fiend to justify Japan's military expansion.
In military transparency, China has made no less effort than other countries. Since 1998, China has issued nine national defense white papers elaborating China's military strategy and peacetime deployment of armed forces. It has submitted its military expenditure report to the UN every year since it joined the UN Military Budget Transparency Mechanism in 2007. This demonstrates a positive gesture of China toward improving military transparency.
Beijing has steadfastly committed itself to a path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is peace-oriented and defensive in nature. We have actually seen an increasingly aggressive Japan, a country that has broken its post-war pacifist pledges and has increased its military spending for five successive years under the excuse of the "China threat." It's noticeable that Japan's per capita military spending is five times that of China. The Japanese intention of military expansion deserves more attention and vigilance.
Japan making an issue of China's military spending is mainly because of its ambition to become a major political power. Tokyo longs to establish a self-dominated Asia-Pacific pattern. In order to counterbalance China's rising influence, it allies with the US. Japan now is stuck in a "mindset of hostility" against China. This tendency is very dangerous. History shows that such a mindset is an important reason that caused Japan's previous warlike strategy.
Japan is becoming an unstable factor in the Asia-Pacific region. The international community should focus more attention on Japan's revision of its war history and its military expansion ambitions.