Thursday, March 6, 2014, 08:23
A stronger China for peace
By China Daily

Now it is official.

China intends to increase its defense budget by 12.2 percent this year to 808.23 billion yuan ($131.57 billion).

Prompting another round of the West crying wolf, and their expressed "concerns" about China's growing military spending. Even our belligerent neighbor, Japan, expressed "concern" and wanted corresponding "transparency".

Those "concerns" are unnecessary, as Premier Li made clear. China wants to "modernize" and "upgrade" its military, and to "raise their deterrence and combat capabilities in the information age", Li explained. But even without Li's explanation, truly informed Western observers know what a long way China has to go to build military capabilities commensurate with its practical security needs, not to mention catching up with the world's military powerhouses.

Like the country itself, the Chinese military's current strength owes much to its size, and its size entails larger budgetary support.

Western media rhetoric about "consecutive years of double-digit increase" in the country's military budgets might sound alarming. However, it ignores the essential truth that the country is only making up for what it has neglected to do in the past. The recent expansion is based on the long-term neglect of input into the country's military capability building as a result of single-minded concentration on economic pursuits and the assumption that the present-day world prefers peace to war.

The current increase is both imperative and legitimate, because China now has broader interests to defend. At the same time, more security threats are sprouting up in its immediate neighborhood.

Outsider worries about Chinese military spending are also redundant because this country remains faithful to its strategy of self-defense. Some Western narratives about the disputes in the East and South China seas are unfair in that they put China in a bully's role. Which is completely against the truth.

There is no way for China to not be "assertive" in such disputes, unless it is ready to forsake its own sovereignty to appease territory thieves.

As long as we do not interfere in others' domestic affairs, as long as we do not covet others' territories, as long as we commit our military capabilities to safeguarding peace, as long as we can afford it, we have the right to spend as much as necessary.

And lest we forget world peace needs a militarily stronger China.