World News / Asia

Amid Regional Worries, China Boosts Defense Spending by 12.2%

FILE - Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers jump through rings of fire in a war game as part of the show for the public during an open day at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base on Hong Kong's Stonecutters Island, July 28, 2012.
FILE - Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers jump through rings of fire in a war game as part of the show for the public during an open day at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base on Hong Kong's Stonecutters Island, July 28, 2012.
VOA News
China has announced another double-digit increase in defense spending, amid regional worries about its growing military assertiveness.

Premier Li Keqiang said the defense budget will be raised by 12.2 percent this year to help modernize China's armed forces and develop more high-tech weapons.

"This year, keeping in mind the [Communist] Party's goal of strengthening the armed forces under new circumstances, we will comprehensively enhance the revolutionary nature of the Chinese armed forces, further modernize them and upgrade their performance, and continue to raise their deterrence and combat capabilities in the information age," said Li.
 
The announcement immediately drew a statement of concern from Japan, which is among many Asian countries alarmed at China's rapidly growing military.
 
China announced the figures along with a wide range of other policy plans at an annual meeting of its ceremonial National People's Congress.
 
In a different part of his speech to parliament, Li said China is targeting "around a 7.5 percent" growth rate in 2014, which is unchanged from last year's goal.
 
In recent years, China has faced a slowdown following three decades of rapid growth that saw it become the world's second largest economy, behind only the U.S.
 
Beijing has also faced rising discontent among its citizens over rampant government corruption, worsening pollution, and its heavy-handed policies on ethnic minorities.
 
In a possible sign of those frustrations, security forces hauled away an unknown number of pamphlet-distributing protesters in Tiananmen Square as the parliament opened.
 
Security forces quickly picked up the pamphlets and ordered those nearby to delete pictures from their cameras, leaving it unclear what the protesters were advocating.
 
The meeting comes days after masked attackers killed 29 people at a train station in the southwest city of Kunming. The attack was blamed on militants from the restive Xinjiang region, where ethnic Uighurs say they are suffering from government repression.
 
The delegates at the People's Congress held a brief moment of silence for the Kunming victims at the opening session. In his report, Premier Li promised China would "crack down hard on violent crimes of terrorism" and "safeguard China's national security."
 
Li also vowed to "declare war" on pollution. He called the choking smog that has commonly blanketed Chinese cities "nature's red-light warning against inefficient and blind development" and said it will be fought "with the same determination we battled poverty."
 
To do this, he said a cap will be put on the country's total energy consumption. A separate government report Wednesday said China will increase spending on energy conservation and environmental protection by 7.1 percent in 2014.
 
The NPC is made up of nearly 3,000 handpicked delegates from provinces and regions across China, who meet every year in order to formally approve policies handed down by the ruling Communist Party.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs