China announced on Monday that it will raise its defense budget by 8.1 percent this year. Observers from the West soon started to speculate whether the move was aimed at overturning the existing international order through growing military might and whether it threatened others. How to understand the budget increase? What will the outlay mainly be used for? The Global Times talked with two experts on these issues.
Li Jie, Beijing-based naval expert
China's defense budget is determined based on the country's GDP growth and developmental goals.
An increase of 8.1 percent is within expectation as China may need more money this year for military reform and equipment upgrade.
Some suspect China's strategic intentions to be behind the budget rise. However, compared with the US, China's military spending is not worth mentioning. The US House of Representatives, backing President Donald Trump's call for a boost in military, earlier finalized a bill worth $692 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, about four times China's budget.
Global military spending this year is expected to reach the highest levels recorded since the end of the Cold War, according to a study by IHS Jane's. This is mainly attributed to the boost in Washington's military spending. The US attaches more importance to its own development than peaceful coexistence with other world players.
American aircraft carriers are sent to the doorsteps of other countries from time to time to flex military muscle. As a response, smaller countries will have to raise their defense budget for better self-protection.
Moreover, the 21st century will need more inputs in maritime affairs and outer space, another factor for growing defense budgets.
Despite all this, a Cold War-like arms race is unlikely. Beijing does not intend to challenge Washington's dominant status in the world. Economic development and peaceful rise is what China aims at in hiking military spending.
Guo Xiaobing, deputy director and research professor, Institute of Arms Control and Security Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations
China raises its military budget by 8.1 percent for three reasons.
First, facing a complex security environment, the country needs a strong military to operate varied traditional and non-traditional security missions, such as the protection of maritime rights, countering terrorism and maintaining stability, emergency rescue and disaster relief, international peacekeeping, escorting in the Gulf of Aden, and providing humanitarian aid.
Second, at a time when development of information technology is causing a reform in military field, the Chinese military has not yet accomplished mechanization. So to catch up with other countries, Beijing needs to work not only on IT application but also on mechanization.
Third, China's military reform, which is still a work-in-progress, needs money.
China's military spending is transparent. The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clarified the goal of China's military progress - "by the year 2020, military mechanization will be basically achieved, with IT application coming a long way and strategic capabilities seeing a big improvement."
The report also mentioned that by 2035, the modernization of our national defense and forces will be basically completed; and that by the mid-21st century the armed forces would be fully transformed into world-class troops.
The increased military expenditure will be mainly used for upgrading equipment, supporting military reforms and improving the welfare and training conditions of servicemen and women.
China aims at making the Chinese people live a happy and decent life and contributing to building a community with a shared future for humanity. Development is our core mission, which requires a peaceful international environment.
Therefore, China will not and has no intention to engage in an arms race with any other country.
China's military budget is reasonable and moderate, in accordance with its desire to protect national security. With countries highly dependent on one another, wars will mean a loss for all sides.