China downplays global concerns over defence expenditure

China is ready to work with the United States to advance military-to-military links in a healthy way, Geng said.

Updated: Feb 23, 2012, 22:02 PM IST

Beijing: China on Thursday sought to downplay
international concerns over its growing defence expenditure,
saying it would not develop its military strength beyond
national security demands nor would it join any arms race.

Expressing surprise over European think tank, Jane`s
Defence and Security Intelligence and Analysis, report that
China would double its defence spending by 2015, surpassing
the combined defence budgets of India and 11 Asian countries,
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said Beijing
will not enter into arms race with any country.

The think tank in its report recently said China`s
military expenditures will increase from USD 119.8 billion in
2011 to USD 238.2 billion in 2015.

"I don`t know (from) where the report cited those
figures," Geng told the Chinese media, adding that China
always stands for coordinated development between national
defence and the economy.

Defending its all round defence development, China said
it would not develop its military strength beyond national
security demands nor it would join arms race with any country.

China draws up its defence budget according to national
security demands and national economic development, and will
not develop its military strength beyond that, state-run
Xinhua news agency quoted Geng as saying.

Referring to concerns over naval upgrades, including
acquisition of first aircraft carrier, Geng said it is "quite
normal" for countries to upgrade their militaries in an era of
rapidly developing technology.

"Weapons and equipment development is undertaken to
maintain national security. It does not target any specific
country or objective," he said.

In this regard, he said Chinese naval escort squads
operating in waters near Somalia to protect the international
sea lanes from pirates.

On Japanese National Institute for Defence Studies
assertions regarding China`s navy, Geng said the report makes
a "wild guess" about Beijing military strength and exaggerates
Chinese military threat.

Geng stressed that Japan has strengthened its own
military in recent years, drawing attention from the
international community, especially neighboring countries.
"We hope Japan will abide by its commitment to pursue a
peaceful way of development, make its military development
more transparent and reflect on its military policies, instead
of gossiping about others," he said.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman told a monthly press
briefing that during Vice President Xi Jinping`s official
visit to the US last week, he had in-depth exchanges of views
with US leaders and military officials on bilateral and
military-to-military ties.

"This visit was of great significance to guiding the
development of relations between the two countries and the two
militaries," Geng said.

He said China has always placed importance on expanding
military-to-military links with the United States, which he
said remains one of the most important bilateral links in the

"We are ready to work with the US side by observing the
principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual
benefits, to respect and take care of each other`s core
interests and major concerns, properly handle differences and
controversial issues, cultivate strategic mutual trust and
push forward China-US military links in a healthy and stable
way," he said.