BEIJING, March 5 -- The Chinese government on Wednesday revealed plans to raise its defense budget by 12.2 percent to 808.2 billion yuan (about 132 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014.
No sooner had the news gone public than some foreign officials and analysts jumped out to cast a false color on the rise of Chinese military spending and hype the "China threat" theory.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, whose country has been a recidivous troublemaker in the region, picked up the musty tone of accusing China of lacking transparency on defense expenditures.
Rory Medcalf, an analyst at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, was quoted by Reuters as describing the increase as "worrying news for China's neighbors, particularly for Japan."
Such "concerns" are unfounded and misplaced. First of all, it is a history-proven basic international norm that every country needs a military budget that can meet its defense needs.
For China, the size of the country and its roles as a key cornerstone of regional and global peace, as well as the largest personnel contributor to UN peace-keeping missions demand that its defense outlays be relatively high.
As a matter of fact, China's military expenses are still much lower than those of major foreign powers both in proportion to GDP and in per capita terms. Thus the latest uptick is nothing unusual.
What is of more fundamental importance is China's peace-oriented defense posture. Beijing has steadfastly committed itself to peaceful development and its defense policy is defensive in nature.
To portray China as a threat because of its relatively big military budget is as nonsensical as to depict it as a pillar of peace if it spends nothing at all on defense.
Furthermore, a militarily stronger China will be a more robust ballast of peace in a region where the security situation is increasingly complicated and volatile.
As a responsible, major stakeholder in regional peace and stability, China needs sufficient strength to prevent hot-headed players from misjudgment and thus forestall conflict and war, so as to maintain a favorable environment for the socioeconomic development of all in the neighborhood.
The real menaces to regional security are, among others, the mounting assertiveness of some South China Sea claimants emboldened by the United States' so-called re-balancing to the Asia-Pacific and the resurgence of Japanese radical nationalism.
It is those factors that sober minds should be concerned about, and it is Washington and Tokyo, instead of Beijing, that should explain to the world their military postures and intentions.