China has defended a recent increase in its 2018 defense budget, saying the hike is a reasonable compared to the United States.
Chinese state media said on Tuesday that the 8.1-percent rise in the country’s defense budget — which was announced at the opening of the parliament on Monday — was neither a huge percentage of the whole budget nor a sharp increase compared to the 2016 or 2017 defense budgets.
The Chinese defense spending will reach 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion) this year, up by 8.1 percent compared to last year’s budget.
The China Daily said that, however calculated, the defense budget increase was minimal. “China’s defense budget is neither the largest in size — it accounts for just one-fourth of the military spending of the United States — nor does it have the fastest growth rate,” the daily said in an editorial on Tuesday.
The English-language newspaper added that even if the Chinese defense budget was “calculated in per capita terms, China’s military lags well behind other major countries.”
US criticism: China’s defense budget was criticized by a US admiral who complained about its lack of “transparency.”
China’s defense budget “is not clearly understood… These investments and commitment need to be taken with full transparency,” Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said on Tuesday.
China is against US military presence in the East China and South China Seas. China sees US military presence in regional waters — far from US territory — as a potential security threat.
US President Donald Trump has, meanwhile, proposed the largest military budget for America since 2011, focused on beefing up the US’s nuclear weapons and fighting what he called the growing global influence of Russia and China.
The Chinese tabloid Global Times said the Chinese defense budget should have been increased by 20 to 30 percent if Beijing meant to enter an arms race with the US.
“China has obviously not fallen into the mindset of engaging in an arms race with the US. Otherwise, it could totally realize double-digit increases in its defense expenditure,” the paper said in its editorial. “Beijing has stuck to its own template and was not disturbed by external factors.”