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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs