By Wan Yu
Wu Qian, spokesperson of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police Force delegation to the 5th session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) met press on March 9, responding to hotspot issues such as China’s national defense budget, anti-pandemic cooperation and the situation in the Taiwan Straits.
The Chinese government upholds the guidelines of coordinated development of national defense and economy, and appropriately determines the scale of defense spending in light of actual defense needs and economic development level, said Wu, adding that China’s defense expenditure has increased at a reasonable and steady rate in recent years to promote defense capabilities in step with the nation’s economic strength.
According to Wu, China has allocated a defense budget of 1.47 trillion yuan ($233.5 billion) for 2022 (including the 1.45 trillion yuan from the central level), with an increase of 7.1 percent from the previous year’s executed amount.
The increased military expenditure will be used in accelerating the modernization of weapons and equipment under the development arrangement in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), cultivating military personnel for the new era, deepening the national defense and military reform, and improving the troops’ welfare, Wu said.
China actively participates in the UN’s military expenditure transparency regime, and has been submitting its annual military expenditure report to the UN since 2008. Wu said it is groundless for some external forces to hype up the so-called “hidden military spending.” China’s defense expenditure is kept at a low level compared with major military powers like the U.S., Wu said, noting that this is reflected through the low level of percentage the figure has in GDP and in public expenditure, as well as per capita.
Wu said China’s increased defense budget is necessary both to cope with complex security challenges and to fulfill its duties as a major country. History has proved and will continue to prove that the Chinese military is always a staunch force in safeguarding the national interests of China and maintaining world peace. The reasonable and steady growth of China’s national defense spending is justified and consistent with the trend of the times, he stressed.
The Chinese military has provided anti-pandemic materials and COVID-19 vaccines to the militaries of a number of countries since the outbreak of COVID-19. Wu said the Chinese military, while supporting regional pandemic control at home and ensuring sound pandemic control for itself, has actively joined international anti-pandemic cooperation and contributed its strength to international society. It demonstrated the sense of responsibility of the Chinese military, Wu added.
Wu said, to implement Chinese President Xi Jinping’s important declaration on making China’s COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, the Chinese military has so far provided vaccines to the militaries of more than 30 countries, including Pakistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia, Lebanon, Hungary, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Bolivia. It has also carried out anti-pandemic cooperation with the militaries of over 50 countries, in the form of providing anti-pandemic supplies, sending military medical expert teams, and holding experience-sharing video meetings. By fulfilling its international obligations and providing public security products during the pandemic, the Chinese military’s pragmatic measures have been highly recognized and widely welcomed by the international community.
There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, Wu said, noting that compatriots from both sides of the Taiwan Straits are blood relatives with a shared future.
The military upholds the policy of “peaceful reunification and one country two systems,” and will make the best efforts sincerely to pursue the prospect of peaceful reunification, but will never tolerate “Taiwan independence” separatist forces to make secessionist activities, Wu said.
Military drills conducted by the PLA are aimed at “Taiwan independence” secessionist moves or interference by external force, and by no means at Taiwan compatriots, Wu stressed.
The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and brooks no external interference in any form. Wu said the political agenda by the U.S. and Japan of using the “Taiwan card” to contain China will not succeed.
“The more the U.S. and Japan make waves on the Taiwan question, the tougher actions we will take to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wu warned.
The Chinese military will never tolerate “Taiwan independence” separatist acts and the interference of external forces, he said.