Wednesday, 9 March 2011

China dedicated to good relations with India, despite military budget rise: spokesman

NCP spokesman Li Zhaoxing

The Chinese government is dedicated to maintaining good relations with India, despite increasing its defence budget by over 12 per cent, a top official from the Chinese parliament said on Friday 4th March.

The comments came a day before the start of the National People's Congress's (NPC) annual session, which seems likely to approve a 12.7 per cent increase in the country's defence budget, a move which has caused concern among some of China's neighbours.

Responding to questions about whether China's defence budget increase would put pressure on its neighbours, such as India, Li Zhaoxing, chairman of the NPC's Foreign Affairs Committee said that China and India have reached a consensus on maintaining the peace and tranquillity of their border areas until the border issues are solved.

Mr Li added that the increase will result in a military budget of 601 billion yuan (US$91.5 billion), which only amounts to 1.4 per cent of GDP. India's defence budget is also set to rise considerably this year, up 11.6 per cent to US$35 billion. As Mr Li pointed out, the Indian budget is higher as a proportion of GDP than China's. The US has a military budget of $725 billion.

Mr Li also said that China wanted to move forward with talks with India. “We seek to advance the negotiations … process on a settlement framework, so as to resolve the boundary question which has been created and left over by history,”

“At present, there are friendly and stable relations between China and India. This has created a good atmosphere for the two sides to resolve the boundary question through consultations,” he said.

Li said China and India had held 14 rounds of meetings since 2003 in an effort to speed up negotiations for an early solution to border issues.

"China attaches great importance to friendly relations with neighbors. ... Seeking peace, cooperation and development is a shared view of all Asian people, including the people of China and India," he said.

The Chinese government said on Friday that it was ready to take forward the negotiations with India over the long-running border dispute, and that the two countries' relationship was now stable enough for a settlement to be reached.

Many analysts believe that the declared budget is only a small proportion of what China actually spends on its military power. Many believe that the increase is a sign of China's desire to put pressure on its military competitors, both regionally and globally.

India is not the only regional power that China has territorial issues with. According to India's Economic Times, on Thursday 3rd March, Japan scrambled military jets after Chinese naval airplanes flew near disputed islands in the East China Sea, although the Chinese did not enter Japan's airspace.

The disputed islands, known in China as the Diaoyu islands and in Japan as the Senakaku islands, have long been disputed by the two sides. The capture of a Chinese boat captain in disputed waters by Japanese patrols in September 2010 drove relations to the lowest levels in years.

The South China Sea dispute has also heated up, with the Philippines demanding an explanation from China over a recent incident in which it says two Chinese patrol boats threatened to ram a survey ship.

China has taken steps to resolve many of its residual border issues. It appears that maritime disputes and issues with India will, however, be harder to solve.

Sources: Economic Times, Xinhua, Times of India, The Hindu

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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