06 March 2017
China omitted a key defense spending figure from its budget for the first time in almost four decades — before an official disclosed the number — highlighting concerns about transparency in the world’s largest military.
While authorities said defense expenditures would rise “about 7 percent” this year, the budget report published by the Ministry of Finance on Sunday omitted the figures. Later, a ministry information officer said China’s military budget would increase 7 percent this year to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151 billion). That’s the slowest pace since at least 1991.
“We didn’t remain private deliberately,” the information officer, Song Kai, said by phone. China had disclosed annual defense spending figures in budget documents at the National People’s Congress since 1980, when it started giving regular financial reports in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.
… “One shouldn’t really trust those figures, because Beijing could have hidden budget overlays for such opaque activities as military R&D, or other expenses beyond what it wants the public and the international community to know about,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 07/03/2017