BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China's defense budget will increase by 7.1 percent to 1.45 trillion yuan (about 229 billion U.S. dollars) this year, maintaining the single-digit growth for the seventh consecutive year, according to a report on the draft central and local budgets for 2022 submitted to the national legislature.
China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. Government spokespersons and official documents have stressed on multiple occasions that no matter how much defense expenditure is invested or how modernized its armed forces are, China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence.
This is in stark contrast to the United States. China's defense budget is just about one-third of the U.S. figure, which exceeds 768 billion U.S. dollars in the 2022 fiscal year. On a per-capita basis, China's defense spending is only one-sixteenth that of the United States.
China's increased defense expenditure helps provide the forces with better training and more advanced equipment. It also supports the military in tackling non-conventional security threats such as major epidemics and natural disasters.
In 2020, when Wuhan was hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese military sent over 4,000 medics to assist in the epidemic fight.
According to China's National Defense Law, military personnel have an obligation to participate in emergency rescue and disaster relief.
Last summer, over 70,000 troops were sent to areas across China inundated by floods. They rescued and evacuated more than 210,000 people and offered medical services to about 8,000 patients.
In 2017, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Macao Garrison sent soldiers to boost local disaster relief efforts after a typhoon wreaked havoc in the region.
China's armed forces are also committed to providing the international community with more public security goods to the best of their capacity.
In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, the PLA Navy has provided protection to over 7,000 Chinese and foreign ships in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.
China is a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Since 1990, about 50,000 Chinese peacekeepers have been dispatched to 25 UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
In a bid to build a community with a shared future for humanity, the Chinese military has extended its disaster relief efforts overseas.
China sent its naval hospital ship Peace Ark across the world to provide medical services, dispatched anti-pandemic materials and vaccines to people in need, and aided countries battered by natural disasters.
Earlier this year, when Tonga was hit by a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, the Chinese military sent more than 1,400 tonnes of disaster relief materials, including prefabricated houses, tractors, generators, and drinking water.
The Chinese armed forces actively provide public security goods, including UN peacekeeping participation, vessel escorting, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts, which have made robust contributions to world peace and regional stability, military experts say.