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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China Increases Military Budget 7.5 Percent

March 7, 2010

Stephanie Ho -- Beijing
Voice of America (VoA)
March 4, 2010

Chinese soldiers practice with their pistols at
an undisclosed training camp in central China's Henan province

China has announced plans to boost its military
budget by 7.5 percent this year -- the smallest
increase in more than two decades. The figures
were unveiled at a news conference, Thursday, to
preview the annual session of China's legislature, which begins Friday.

Li Zhaoxing, spokesman of the National People's
Congress, says China's new military budget for
2010 will be nearly $78 billion, or 7.5 percent more than the year before.

Li says the increase is smaller than in previous
years. He says the defense spending increases
will mainly be used to diversify military
capabilities and support reform of the armed
forces. He says the money also will be used to
help raise the living standards of the men and women in the military.

He says China's defense spending is low, despite
the country's physical size and population.

He say the amount China spends on the military
will only account for one-point-four percent of
the country's gross domestic product. He compared
this with more than four percent for the United
States and about two percent for Britain, France and Russia.

Many analysts say the official figure accounts
for only a part of actual military spending and
have called for more transparency in China's military expenditures.

Li says his country has submitted annual defense
spending reports to the United Nations and
submits a major defense report every two years.

China has been taking a more active role in
international military affairs. A naval task
force set off from southern China, Thursday, to
replace Chinese military ships already patrolling
in the Gulf of Aden, to protect international
shipping from pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The release of the military budget follows recent
and repeated protests by Beijing about the
American sale of arms to Taiwan, an island China
regards as part of its territory.

Li says China considers the people on Taiwan
"kith and kin," and he says blood is thicker than
water. In regard to the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan,
Li says it is like two brothers embracing, when
someone extends a dagger to one of them.

Relations between China and Taiwan have improved
in recent months, following decades of hostility.
However, China still keeps hundreds of missiles aimed at the island.

Meanwhile, Li repeated his country's position
that it is strongly opposed to foreign leaders
meeting Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the
Dalai Lama. President Obama met with the Dalai Lama in Washington, last month.

China accuses the Tibetan leader of seeking
independence for Tibet.  He denies that
accusation and says he is only seeking greater
cultural and religious autonomy for his homeland.

Meanwhile, Li assured journalists that the
situation in the restive minority region,
Xinjiang is stable. Xinjiang has a large
population of mostly Muslim Uighurs and in July
saw some of the country's worst ethnic violence.

Li says stability was restored to Xinjiang's
capital, Urumqi, thanks to the Chinese Communist
Party, the government - both central and local - and the armed forces.
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