China will increase defense spending progressively and commensurate with the growing economy, President Hu Jintao said yesterday.
"We will gradually increase input in national defense as the economy grows, and continue to modernize national defense and the armed forces in a way that serves the interests of our national security and development," said Hu, also chairman of the Central Military Commission.
He was speaking at a grand rally marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In March, the Chinese legislature approved the national defense budget for the 2007 fiscal year, which reached $44.94 billion, an annual increase of 17.8 percent.
The modernization of national defense and armed forces "is the historical mission of the PLA and the common cause of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups", said the president.
"Economic growth is the basis for enhancing defense capability, which is, in turn, an important indicator of overall national strength," Hu told an audience of hundreds of soldiers of all ranks, military retirees and civilian leaders.
The president also called for more efforts to accelerate the upgrading of defense-related science, technology and weaponry; and to boost the capacity for independent innovation.
He urged committees of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and governments at all levels to support the strengthening of military capability.
The president stressed that while adhering to the defensive nature of the country's military, China must build a "slim but strong" armed forces by striking a sound balance between speed, quality and efficiency in the modernization drive of the country's 2.3 million troops.
"The world is experiencing profound transformation, and China should be alert to potential risks," he said. "The international situation is generally stable, but the world is not all peaceful."
Hu also stressed the PLA's loyalty to the CPC.
"To follow the CPC's command is the overriding political requirement that the Party and Chinese people have placed on the PLA and is the unshakable and fundamental principle for the PLA," said the president.
"Only by putting itself under the CPC leadership has the PLA been able to stay on the right course politically and maintained its strong cohesion and combat effectiveness as well as its vigor and vitality," he said.
The president acknowledged that the PLA has grown in strength and become more modernized and professional through eight decades of development
The PLA is "no longer a small, single-service force, but a strong and multiple-service force," which has made progress in modernization and is stepping toward an information technology-based army, Hu said.
"By putting in place a comprehensive scientific, technological and industrial structure for national defense, the PLA is increasingly better positioned to defend the nation," he said.
"All these have strengthened the PLA's capability to better perform its mission and provided a solid foundation for the basic realization of defense and military modernization," he said.
The president also spoke highly of the historic contributions the PLA has made to the country and the people since its founding.
In the past 80 years, the PLA has, under the CPC's leadership, fought courageously in fulfilling its mission and made indelible historic contributions to China's liberation cause, socialist construction and reform drives as well as in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, Hu said.
Source: Xinhua/China Daily