Defense budget hike likely

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-2 1:04:57

Possible increase meets national defense needs: analysts

A possible increase in China's military budget in 2016 is justified as the nation's armed forces undergo structural reforms to boost their combat capability and face an increasingly complicated military situation as a rising power, observers said.

Citing an anonymous expert close to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the 2016 military budget increase may even reach 20 percent - the highest since 2007 - which "would be acceptable this time."

Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, said this year's military budget will see an "appropriate" increase to meet national defense needs without putting other countries on high alert. "I think the budget reported in the SCMP might be too high," Ni told the Global Times.

China is scheduled to unveil its annual military budget at the fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), which begins Saturday.

Last year's military budget increased by 10 percent - its slowest increase in five years - to 886.8 billion yuan ($135.27 billion). The US defense budget was over $500 billion in the same year. 

Analysts said the possible increase, which may be much higher than last year, is justified as much of it will be used for retirement or retrenchment compensation for PLA staff affected by major military reforms launched in September 2015.

The nation has since pledged to reshuffle its theater commands and strengthen the joint command system. By the end of 2017, China will also have reduced its military personnel by 300,000, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"A big reduction in troops doesn't mean the PLA's budget will immediately be reduced as it should allocate a certain amount for retirement pay or other types of compensation in the next two years," the expert close to the PLA was quoted as saying by SCMP.

Ni said that China's defense budget may also take into consideration the increasingly tense military situations in the East and South China seas.

A US navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhongjian Island in the Xisha Islands in January, its latest military action in the region.

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, also said that such actions would continue, especially after US reports claimed that HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles were deployed on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on February 17 that China is entitled to deploy "limited and necessary defense facilities" on its islands for self defense, which has nothing to do with "militarization."

Posted in: Military

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