China military is transparent, no threat - Premier
Canberra, Apr 3: China's military is transparent and not a threat, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said today after the United States and Japan criticised the Asia giant for not being open enough about a build-up of its defence forces.
China's 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army is the world's largest standing force and Beijing has said its official defence budget is set to rise 14.7 per cent to 283.8 billion yuan in 2006.
During a visit to Australia today, Wen said China had reduced its military by 1.7 million over the past two decades, and its military spending as a share of the gross domestic product and the government budget was fairly low by international standards.
''The modest increase in Chinese military expenditure is mainly for improving the welfare of its servicemen, strengthening its defence capabilities and safeguarding national reunification,'' Wen told a lunch meeting in Canberra.
''Thus China will not pose a threat to anyone. China's defence policy is transparent,'' he said. U S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso both recently expressed concern about China's military build-up and urged Beijing to be more transparent.