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China releases white paper on national defense in new era

By Li Longyi, People’s Daily

The State Council Information Office of China issued a white paper titled “China’s National Defense in the New Era” on July 24th. It is the 10th white paper on national defense the Chinese government has issued since 1998 and the first comprehensive one since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

The main body of the 27,000-character white paper was divided into six sections: the international security situation, China’s defensive national defense policy in the new era, fulfilling the missions and tasks of China’s armed forces in the new era, reform in China’s national defense and armed forces, reasonable and appropriate defense expenditure, and actively contributing to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The white paper pointed out that the socialist system of China, the strategic decision to follow the path of peaceful development, the independent foreign policy of peace, and the best of cultural traditions—considering peace and harmony as fundamentals—determinant that China will pursue a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.

The white paper said that resolutely safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests is the fundamental goal of China’s national defense in the new era; never seeking hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence is the distinctive feature of China’s national defense in the new era; implementing the military strategic guideline for a new era is the strategic guidance for China’s national defense in the new era; staying committed to the Chinese path of building strong armed forces is the path forward for China’s national defense in the new era; and the service of building a community with a shared future for mankind is the global significance of China’s national defense in the new era.

The white paper for the first time unveiled the missions and tasks of China’s armed forces in the new era. It said that to meet the strategic demands of national security and development, China’s armed forces firmly implement the missions and tasks entrusted by the CPC and the people. They endeavor to provide strategic support for consolidating the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system, safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, protecting China’s overseas interests, and promoting world peace and development.

The white paper also presented a panorama of China’s historic achievements in deepening reform in national defense and armed forces. In the new era, China is advancing defense and military modernization across the board and deepening reform in national defense and armed forces in all respects, with a focus on removing institutional barriers and solving structural and policy-related problems to adapt to the trends of worldwide RMA and the demands of national security. Historic strides have been made in strengthening the armed forces.

The white paper detailed the reasonable and appropriate defense expenditure in China. It introduced China’s scale and composition of defense expenditure and compared China with other countries ranking high in defense expenditure.

All in all, China’s defense expenditure is open and transparent, and its spending is reasonable and appropriate. Compared to other major countries, the ratios of China’s defense expenditure to GDP and to government expenditure, as well as the per capita defense expenditure of the country, remain at a relatively low level. There is still a wide gap between China’s defense expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, for fulfilling China’s international responsibilities and obligations as a major country, and for China’s development. In step with national economic development, defense expenditure of China will maintain a moderate and steady growth.

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