BEIJING — China’s push to boost its defense capability has become a key to maintaining peace in Asia and stems from years of bullying at the hands of others, a spokeswoman for the country’s legislature told a briefing Monday.
China seeks to solve disputes through negotiation and diplomacy, National People’s Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying said on the eve of the legislature’s annual session. In a break with precedent, Fu declined to release the country’s 2013 defense spending forecast.
Xi Jinping, who became Communist Party general secretary in November, has pledged a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Neighbors including Japan and the Philippines have voiced concern over China’s maritime territorial claims amid a rise in military spending.
“Historically, China has had a weak defense and learned the lessons of hurtful bullying,” Fu told a briefing in Beijing. “We need a solid defense.”
Chinese military spending, second only to that of the United States, was forecast to rise 11.2 percent in 2012 to 670 billion yuan ($108 billion) as the country has modernized its fighter jets, sea frigates and satellite technology.
Fu declined to give China’s 2013 defense spending forecast when asked for the figure, in a break with precedent dating back to at least 2005.
Fu said the figure would be released as part of the overall budget. That information is expected to be disclosed at the start of the National People’s Congress Tuesday.
China will safeguard its security interests and respond “resolutely” if other countries provoke it, Fu said in response to a question about whether the country is becoming more assertive in its dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.
“Some people might make prejudgments with the conventional logic that a strong country is bound to seek hegemony,” Fu said. “When another country makes provocations, what should we do? We should give a resolute response and handle these matters in timely manner.”
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