Tuesday, March 19

China legislature declines to reveal defence spending

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BEIJING: China’s national legislature declined to announce the country’s 2013 defence budget at a press conference yesterday, in a departure from normal practice the day before its annual session opens.

Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress (NPC), which begins today, responded with frustration when she was asked about military spending at a press conference where in recent years the budget has been revealed.

“It seems China has to explain every year to the outside world why we should strengthen national defence and why we should increase the military budget,” Fu said.

China’s defence budget has been announced at the pre-NPC press conference going back to at least 2006. Last year the then NPC spokesman said 2012 military spending would rise 11.2 per cent to 670.27 billion yuan (US$107.6 billion now).

The announced budgets are subject to formal approval by the NPC, and may emerge during its sessions on government finances in the coming days.

Experts say that China’s actual defence spending is usually substantially higher than the publicly declared figures. — AFP