China will raise its heavily scrutinised defence spending by nearly a fifth this year, a top official said on Tuesday, warning self-ruled Taiwan that Beijing would “tolerate no division”.
The planned allocation for the People’s Liberation Army for 2008 was 417.769 billion yuan ($58.76 billion), up 17.6 per cent on 2007.
Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for China’s National People’s Congress, or parliament, stressed that China adhered to a path of peaceful development and said the money would be used to raise the pay of service personnel, improve training and upgrade military equipment. “China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity tolerate no division,” Jiang said.
“China pursues a national defence policy which is defensive in nature,” Jiang told a news conference. “China’s limited military capability is solely for the purpose of safeguarding independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will not pose a threat to any country.”
US officials have said China’s growing might is aimed at Taiwan, the island Beijing regards as its territory and whose March 22 presidential election it will watch closely.