China has compared U.S. concerns about its military buildup to the prying of a voyeur wanting to see his neighbor naked. China is expected to announce an increase in defense spending next week during its annual legislative session. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, the comments show just how private an issue China considers its military.
During a visit to Asia last week, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said China's defense spending was not in line with its stated goal of a "peaceful rise". The United States and other developed nations have also said China's military budget is not transparent enough.
China's foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, defended Beijing's military spending and transparency, comparing Washington's concern to the behavior of a nosy neighbor or a voyeur.
"If someone always tears through your clothes and even wants to lift open your underwear, saying "Let me see what is inside,' how would you feel? Would you want to call the police," Qin asked.
China says its military spending is open and transparent and that double-digit increases in the past few years are necessary to upgrade low salaries for soldiers and outdated equipment. Last year China increased defense spending by nearly 15 percent.
Beijing argues its $36 billion defense spending is just a small fraction of defense budgets in developed nations.
But some analysts say China does not report all military expenditure as part of its defense budget and say real spending could be three times higher than official figures, sparking concern about Beijing's military intentions.
China has hundreds of missiles aimed at its political rival Taiwan that it says are necessary to its policy of national reunification. Beijing describes self-ruling and democratic Taiwan as a runaway province that must one day be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
The United States has vowed to defend Taiwan against attack from China, a key reason for Washington's concerns about the build-up.
Qin said China's defense was to protect national sovereignty, security, territory, and national unity. He said China's military would not be used for war or to expand China's territory.