Editor's note: As China emerges as an influential stakeholder in the international arena, issues surrounding this ancient country seem to be frequently misinterpreted by Western media. To clarify the misunderstandings and demonstrate the true image of China, the CGTN Opinion team invited experts and made a special video series titled "Opinions Clash" to respond to topics that are often brought to the limelight but are wrongly interpreted. Here is the second episode on China's military spending.
From the Beidou navigation system to the submersible Jiaolong, the Chinese military has made enormous strides in technological development that the 19th CPC National Congress says will lead to its full transformation into a world-class force by the mid-21st century.
But this is not what the West is happy to see. “Threat” is their most often used word to describe China's military modernization. In addition to hyping Beijing's “strategic intentions” in developing its military capabilities, a Reuters report warned about the Chinese mainland's aggression against Taiwan.
"Groundless" is how Zhang Junshe, a senior captain at China's Naval Research Institute, responded to the claim. It is a military strategy, not capability, that determines whether a country poses a threat. "Military rise" can never be equated to "threat."
China embraces the concept of an Active Defense Strategy. The nation's military budget is used for defense, not aggression; for protection of sovereignty, not for hegemony. Has China ever used force to threaten its neighbors? Never!
But Beijing will never tolerate any provocation to its sovereignty or any attempt to split Taiwan from its motherland. Taiwan is a domestic matter in which the West has no right to interfere. At the same time, China has a justified reason to use force, if necessary, to eradicate pro-independent forces.
It is the U.S. that is, in fact, a real threat. While the growth rate of China's defense budget has been running at less than 10 percent for four consecutive years, staying below 1.5 percent of GDP, Donald Trump has requested over 600 billion U.S. dollars in defense expenditure for the 2018 fiscal year, equivalent to 3.4 percent of GDP.
Under an aggressive military strategy, the U.S. has raided Iraq and Afghanistan without UN approval and sent troops to Syria. In its pursuit of hegemony, Washington has brought millions of innocent lives into relentless wars.
In sharp contrast, China is a major contributor to regional peace and stability. The U.S. is viewing China's military modernization through colored spectacles. Its Cold War mentality will lead it nowhere.