People's Liberation Army generals who are delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have defended the country's largest defence budget, accusing international critics of its military build-up of being biased. Major General Zhu Heping said the double-digit increase in defence spending, announced yesterday, was not high. 'The budget hike is necessary and will be used mainly to improve the troops' living standards,' said General Zhu, vice-president of the Air Force Command Academy and a grandson of leading revolutionary general Zhu De . He said a torrent of criticism over the mainland's fast-growing military power reflected a deep-rooted bias among western countries. 'No country, especially those in the west, wants to see a powerful China,' he said. 'It is just an excuse to express their concerns over China's expanding power.' He said that even though military spending had grown at a double-digit pace for the past two decades, it remained low in global terms, considering the mainland's sizzling economic growth. His views were echoed by Major General Liu Taihang , a former academy vice-president and son of another top revolutionary general, Liu Bocheng . General Liu said the rise in the budget was barely enough to improve living and training conditions for the PLA's 2.3 million troops. 'The increased budget is supposed to be spent primarily on the armaments upgrade, but it is almost impossible given the rather poor living standards of Chinese troops, especially in remote areas,' he said. He said that during a trip to the Tibetan border last year, he was surprised to see Chinese soldiers far behind their Indian counterparts in terms of clothing and equipment. Both generals played down the impact of the surging defence spending on Taiwan ahead of the island's presidential election this month. 'China's policy towards Taiwan has always been clear, and President Hu Jintao elaborated once again at the Communist Party's national congress last year that we would not tolerate Taiwan's secessionist moves towards independence,' General Zhu said. General Liu said: 'There must be ulterior motives behind those criticisms from western countries, especially the US ... It may also be used to send some signals to Taiwan.'