France calls for transparency in China's military

19th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

BEIJING, March 19, 2007 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie called on China Monday to raise transparency over its military budget, a move that would help alleviate suspicion over the nation's growing military might.

BEIJING, March 19, 2007 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie called on China Monday to raise transparency over its military budget, a move that would help alleviate suspicion over the nation's growing military might.

"It is true that some people are worried with the increase in (China's) defense budget," Alliot-Marie told journalists in Beijing, the latest stop in an Asia tour that has taken her to Tokyo and Seoul.

"The Chinese authorities have told me what the increases were for and I told them that transparency would be able to lift the suspicions."

Alliot-Marie, who met with President Hu Jintao and other military leaders on Monday, said she had noted a lack of confidence between the neighbouring countries that she had visited and attributed such unease to recent history.

"Transparency is the number one condition for the lifting of suspicions," she said.

Alliot-Marie said China has earmarked a 17.8 percent increase in military spending in 2007, "making the defence budget of China 1.6 percent of GDP, much less than other nations in the region, I should say, and also that of France which is currently about two percent."

She said she was told by Chinese officials that much of the increase in spending would be given to soldiers who had not had salary increases in recent years.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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