By Ren Tianze
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was granting the UN Peace Medal of Honor to the 22nd Chinese peacekeeping contingent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at a medal-awarding ceremony held at the "China Peninsula" camp in the city of Bukavu, August 8, 2019. (Photo: eng.mod.gov.cn)
It is reported that China’s military budget for 2020 increases by 6.6%, a one-digit growth rate for five consecutive years. As always, some foreign media have made a fuss over China’s military expenditure even though 6.6% is the lowest growth rate in recent years. Japan’s Nikkei reported it as a new high of China’s military expenditure amid the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, while the AP questioned the transparency of the expenditure and claimed China would expand its military presence in the West Pacific and Indian Oceans. Their clamors are nothing but a new round of hype up the “China threat theory”. The unexpected hit of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic calls for global solidarity and cooperation, and it is especially inappropriate to stir up hostility and antagonism with the “China threat theory” at such a moment.
In the global context, the one-digit increase in China’s military expenditure is not only appropriate, but also demonstrates the country’s restraint against the backdrop of significant changes in the external environment and the setbacks to international arms control in recent years. According to Zhang Yesui, spokesperson of the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China has kept its national defense expense at around 1.3% of GDP for many years, which is much lower than the world average of 2.6% and the lowest among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The national defense expense is about 5.3% of China’s fiscal expenditure, ranking 4th in the world, and its per capita defense spending was in the 7th position worldwide in 2017.
According to the global military spending report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), America’s military expenditure of 2019 had a year-on-year increase of 5.3% to reach USD732 billion, accounting for 38% of the global total. China’s annual military budget and per capita military spending are only respectively 1/4 and 1/17 those of the US, the world’s top economy and military power. As the world’s second-largest economy, China’s military expenditure is obviously low compared with its national strength since 2012.
China has steadfastly followed a defense policy that’s defensive in nature, pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and never recognized the logic that a strong country is bound to pursue hegemony. An appropriate capability of strategic containment can reduce the possibility of other countries resorting to military provocations, but aggressive military expansion is never in China’s strategies. At present, China has established defense security consultation and meeting mechanisms with 17 surrounding countries. It promotes regional security cooperation through such frameworks as the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), and properly handles territorial issues and maritime demarcation disputes with neighboring countries through diplomatic channels. Facts have proven that China, instead of being a threat, has become an important pillar for safeguarding the security and stability in the region.
A growing Chinese military on the path to modernization is strengthening the international peace forces. China boasts the largest peacekeeping standby forces with the fullest spectrum of contingents of all UN member states. Chinese peacekeepers have contributed immensely to world peace and stability under the UN framework, leaving their footprints from the war-ridden South Sudan and Mali to the Ebola-ravaged west Africa.
There is an apparent positive correlation between China’s military build-up and the stability of international order. As unilateralism is on the rise and the post-war international order is being shocked by certain countries putting their own interests first, the international community has never been in a greater need for its major countries fulfilling their responsibilities. Appropriate development of the Chinese military that upholds the vision of building the community with a shared future for mankind is good news in every sense for world peace and development. Confronted with these facts, the foreign media should discard their old trick of hyping up China’s military expenditure into the ash heap of history.
Disclaimer: This article is originally published on haiwainet.cn, which is the website of Overseas Edition of the People's Daily. The article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.