Top brass defends surge in spending
China's top army officials have attributed a 12 per cent surge in defence spending this year to fast-growing military equipment costs and inflation.
General Cao Gangchuan , head of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, said the rising cost of military equipment was one of the main reasons behind the Army's budget increase.
'The equipment is getting more advanced. Prices are also going up,' said General Cao.
China plans to spend 80.57 billion yuan (about HK$75.3 billion) on defence, up 12 per cent, despite a 53 billion yuan budget deficit.
But officials said most of the budget would be used to improve soldiers' livelihood.
'Army officials also need clothes and a house to live in,' General Cao said.
Another military representative, Lieutenant-General Zhang Xusan, said Chinese soldiers led a life of poverty.
'From my point of view, the increase is still not enough,' he said.
Evading concerns about expenditure on last year's military manoeuvres, General Zhang said: 'We've got to spend what has to be spent.' Former chief of staff Xu Xin also defended the increase, saying China's defence spending was low by international standards.
'The three million Chinese soldiers last year got less than US$10 billion [HK$77 billion] a year,' he said.
Finance Minister Liu Zhongli considered defence spending reasonable, taking into account a 13 per cent rise in general expenditure.