China's defence spending questioned | News | Al Jazeera

China's defence spending questioned

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has questioned the reasons behind China's recent military build-up at a regional security conference.

    China's military spending is still dwarfed by the United States

    Speaking at Singapore's International Institute of Strategic Studies on Saturday, Rumsfeld said the Pentagon's annual assessment of China's military capabilities showed Beijing was spending more than its leaders acknowledge.

    He added that its government was expanding missile capabilities and developing advanced military technology.

    China has the world's third-largest military budget, Rumsfeld said, behind the US and Russia. 

    "One might be concerned that this build-up is putting the delicate military balance in the region at risk - especially, but not only, with respect to Taiwan," he added.

    "Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: Why this growing investment?"

    The US spends over $400 billion a year on its military. China's expenditure is estimated at $55 billion to $85 billion.

    Chinese comment

    However, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Kong Quan has said that the separatist policies in Taiwan pose a threat to peace and stability in the region and that Washington was exacerbating the problem.

    "China has requested the US to faithfully honour its commitments to China on the Taiwan issue.

    "Stop sending wrong signals to the pro-independence forces in Taiwan … avoid causing new damage to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and Sino-US relations".

    China has repeatedly called on the US to stop selling weapons to Taiwan and has said it would attack Taiwan if the island tries to declare independence.

    North Korea negotiations

    Rumsfeld's speech prodded Beijing to use its influence over North Korea and help restart six-nation talks over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programmes.

    Those talks have been stalled for a year, and US officials worry Pyongyang - which declared itself a nuclear power earlier this year - may be preparing to test a nuclear bomb.

    Rumsfeld's speech was the strongest criticism levelled at China since he took charge of the Pentagon in 2001 and comes days after a decision to send 15 F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters to South Korea for what the Pentagon called a long-planned training mission.

    The previous low point was in April 2001, when a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet collided in mid-air, forcing the American plane to land in China. The crew of the Navy plane was released 11 days later.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    America's Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria

    America's Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria

    How has the international arms trade exacerbated conflict in the Middle East? People and Power investigates.

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.