Rumsfeld urges China to be open about military growth

U.S. Defense Secretary on Wednesday urged China to be more open about its military buildup, saying the secretive nature of the expansion is raising global suspicions, but his Chinese counterpart denied that Beijing was underreporting its defense budget.

Donald H. Rumsfeld met with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Cao Gangchuan and spoke at the Central Party School, the Communist Party's top training center for mid-career cadres and its main ideological think tank.

He was to meet later with President Hu Jintao.

Cao, at a joint news conference with Rumsfeld, denied that China was underreporting its military budget or dramatically increasing spending.

"It is simply impossible for us to massively increase the investment in defense capabilities," Cao said, explaining that China's top priorities are growing the economy and improving living standards.

Defense spending, readjusted for China's new exchange rate, is US$30.2 billion (Ђ25.3 billion), he said. "That is indeed the true budget."

That said, the figure doesn't include funding for "the development of certain equipment," Cao said, citing the recent space launch as an example.

The Pentagon said last summer that China may be spending US$90 billion (Ђ75 billion) on its military this year three times the announced total.

In earlier remarks at the Central Party School, whose students are people the party regards as its rising stars, Rumsfeld applauded China's recent dramatic economic growth and said the United States would welcome a peaceful and prosperous China. "We also approach our relationship realistically," he said, reports the AP.


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