BEIJING, March 5 -- The newly revealed 12.2-percent increase of Chinese military spending to 132 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 has unsurprisingly met with an immediate outcry of "concerns" and "worries" from certain countries.
No sooner had Beijing's new defense budget gone public than some foreign officials and analysts jumped out to cast a false color on it and hype the "China threat" theory.
Both the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear, and Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, pointed the finger at what they branded as a lack of transparency in China's defense outlays.
Locklear even cited China's "ambiguous" territorial claims in South China Sea and its establishment of an air defense identification zone over East China Sea to accuse Beijing of complicating the security environment.
Rory Medcalf, an analyst at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, was quoted by Reuters as describing the increase of China's defense budget as "worrying news for China's neighbors, particularly for Japan." Such "concerns" and "worries" are unfounded and misplaced, and Locklear's accusation that China is complicating the security situation amounts to a gross perversion of truth.
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 player in maintaining regional and global peace and as the largest personnel contributor to UN peace-keeping missions demand that its defense outlays be relatively high.
To portray China as a threat because of its relatively big military budget is nonsensical.
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 and its responsible and constructive approach to regional and global affairs, including disputes it is directly involved.
As Locklear said, the security situation in the Asia-Pacific, particularly East Asia, has indeed become increasingly complicated and volatile. But it is largely the United States and Japan, instead of China, that should bear the blame.
The mounting assertiveness of some South China Sea claimants emboldened by Washington's so-called re-balancing to the Asia-Pacific and the resurgence of Japanese radical nationalism are among the real major menaces to regional stability.
In actuality, a militarily stronger China will be a more robust ballast of regional peace and stability.
As a responsible, major stakeholder in the region, 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.
Washington has repeatedly stressed that its "pivot" to Asia does not target China and it does not take sides in regional territorial disputes. But its words are not matched by its deeds.
Japan, for its part, has already become a recidivous troublemaker in the region and set the world's nerves on edge as increasingly rampant rightist elements attempt to deny history, sabotage the postwar world order and scuttle the pacifist constitution.
Thus it is Washington and Tokyo, instead of Beijing, that should explain to the world their military postures and intentions.