Lower defense budget growth reasonable

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/5 19:28:40

Editor's Note:

China has lowered its defense budget growth rate to 7.5 percent in 2019 from 8.1 percent in 2018, according to a draft budget report which is submitted to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Tuesday. Why has China lowered its defense spending growth rate? Will it affect the country's military strength? Two experts shared their views with the Global Times.

Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst

Lowering China's defense budget growth rate from 8.1 percent in 2018 to 7.5 percent in 2019 is in line with international expectations. It helps augment China's defense capability and enhances combat power, and shows that China enjoys peace and stable neighborhood diplomacy without risk of war. Besides, China has finished developing its fifth-generation fighter jet J-20 and Type 055 destroyer, which will also lead to decrease in the country's defense budget growth for 2019.

This is China's fourth consecutive year of single-digit military budget growth. However, some Western and Asia-Pacific countries still raised concerns about China's increasing military expenditure. These countries should understand that China's defense budget is reasonable and transparent. 

China's purpose is to promote modernization of its national defense, but not to pose a threat to other countries. Instead of being distracted by these countries' questions, China should focus on its own affairs. 

China's move to enhance its military strength is also benefiting the world. For example, China helped some other countries ward off pirates, sent naval hospital ships to provide medical services in developing countries; and Chinese military also participated in UN peacekeeping missions.

China's military expenditure is not as high as that of the US. Its military expenditure per capita is much less compared with many developed countries. A country's defense budget should match its conditions and meet the practical needs of its army. 

Although China has lowered its defense budget growth rate for 2019, the expenditure is still sufficient and reasonable for the country. The decreased rate will not affect research and development in weapons. China will also not compromise on improving soldiers' welfare and equipment.

Yang Yucai, professor at National Defense University of People's Liberation Army 

Lowering defense budget growth rate for 2019 shows the country is optimistic about international security. It also reflects China's concern about economic slowdown. Given a slowing global economy amid fears of recession, defense budget savings could be better used to solve other problems. There is no need for a substantial increase in the defense budget.

It should be noted that regardless of the lower growth rate, China's military expenditure is still increasing and can undoubtedly provide for development of the military. Nonetheless, in spite of the lower defense budget growth rate, the West is still in a stew over the so-called China threat theory. Such image is inseparable from the West's hype.

China's defense budget numbers are impressive. But China's size has necessitated its huge military expenditure. Such cost is necessary for defending the country.

In 2018, China's defense outlay accounted for approximately 1.3 percent of GDP; there would be no major change this year. In contrast, this proportion is over 2 percent in many Western countries on account of their interventionist policies. China has adopted a peaceful development strategy all along, and it develops military power purely for defensive needs, thus needing lower military expenditure compared to Western countries.

Washington's defense budget for fiscal year 2019 is $716 billion, over three times China's. The US has military deployments all over the world in a bid to ensure its leadership, thus it needs a large-scale military buildup. 

Considering an unstable Middle East and some other regions, Washington has stressed containment and confrontation between major powers and has regarded several forces as potential military threats. Therefore, the US needs to invest more in its military; but China has no such concerns.

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