World News

    Amid Regional Worries, China Boosts Defense Spending by 12.2%

    China has announced another double-digit increase in defense spending, amid regional worries about its growing military assertiveness.

    Premier Li Keqiang says 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."



    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 Wednesday at an annual meeting of its ceremonial National People's Congress.

    In his speech to parliament, Premier Li Keqiang 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 the United States.

    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."

    Mr. 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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora