China media: Military budget

Papers back China's decision to increase its military budget Image copyright EPA
Image caption Papers back China's decision to increase its military budget

Papers downplay fears over China's increased military budget, while defending the lower economic growth target unveiled on Thursday.

China on Thursday formally announced that its military budget would rise by 10.1% in 2015.

The figure is lower than the 12.2% increase last year.

Several papers have highlighted that the rise is the "lowest in five years and "still way behind that of the US".

Chen Zhou, a researcher with the Academy of Military Science, tells the Beijing News that the Chinese military needs to increase its spending because it actively participates in more international peacekeeping efforts and anti-terrorism operations.

A commentary in the China Daily describes the "sensationalised" reports in the Western media as "absurd".

"There is really no need to worry about China having military superiority," writes Xu Guangyu, senior advisor to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

"In fact, to narrow the military gap with Western developed powers and better defend its growing interests globally, China needs to raise its military budget annually; and the growth rate should be greater than that of the West or the gaps will widen," says the article.

However, worrying that military corruption may weaken the army's fighting capability, the commentary also calls for more transparency and stricter supervision of the spending.

"Non-sensitive spending should be made public as the military budget comes from taxpayers and they have the right to know every cent is being used to better defend them," it says.

The Global Times points out that China is facing more complex national security risks as it develops.

"China's military spending is not in proportion to its real security situation," argues the editorial, stating that the country does not rank among the safest in the world.

Economic growth

Meanwhile, state-run media support the lower economic growth target unveiled on Thursday by Premier Li Keqiang, describing it as "pragmatic".

Addressing the National People's Congress (NPC), Chinese parliament's annual session, Mr Li said China would target growth of around 7% in 2015, while pledging tighter environmental controls.

The 7% figure is lower than the 7.5% set last year - a target that was missed as China grew at its slowest pace in 24 years.

After years of double-digit growth, China's leaders are now advocating a "new normal" of slower expansion.

And papers have supported the stand, calling for emphasis on growth quality rather than a "relentless pursuit" for a higher GDP.

Commenting on the latest goal, a report in the official Xinhua News Agency says it is a "pragmatic" one as the economy faces a downward.

Experts interviewed by the state-run media admit that the economic situation this year will be "more difficult than last year", hence the adjustment is a "realistic and down to earth" move.

Taiwan's independence

And finally, papers shine a spotlight on cross-strait ties after President Xi Jinping warned Taiwan against seeking independence.

According to the China Daily, Mr Xi commented on Wednesday that pro-independence forces are a threat to the peaceful development of ties between the two sides.

"The separatist forces of 'Taiwan independence' and their activities threaten national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the daily quotes Mr Xi as saying.

Noting that this is the first time Mr Xi has made such comments openly, Ni Yongjie, a Taiwan affairs expert, says the remarks reflect China's confidence as its strength grows.

"The mainland will never accept calls for Taiwan's independence. Mr Xi's speech is a warning to such forces on the island," the pundit tells the Global Times' Chinese edition.

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