BEIJING (Reuters) - China is building a stronger military as insurance against the country suffering the kind of disaster that befell it during World War Two, the army’s paper said on Friday as President Xi Jinping headed to Russia for war commemorations.
China’s military buildup, which includes developing stealth fighters and anti-satellite missiles, has unnerved the region and Washington, especially since Xi took office in 2013 and started taking a tougher line on maritime territorial disputes.
Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and it rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this.
The government has promised a series of high profile events to mark the end of the war, including a military parade in Beijing in September, and Xi will attend a similar parade in Moscow on Saturday, where Chinese troops are also marching.
In a lengthy editorial in the official People’s Liberation Army Daily, the publication said that one of the main reasons why China suffered the humiliation of Japan’s invasion was that the country was weak and militarily backward at the time.
“With a weak country the military will decline, and when that happens you’ll get a thrashing,” it wrote.
“There is still a great lack of peace in the world today, and there has been no substantive change to the ‘law of the jungle’ in international competition.”
Some countries are still using “gangster logic” to threaten others with the use of force, it added, without naming any offenders.
“This is what requires us to quicken our step in strengthening the military, on the basis of having a strong country,” the paper said.
“Otherwise, once a military falls behind, it will have a fatal impact upon the country’s security.”
China will boost its military spending by 10.1 percent this year to 886.9 billion yuan ($142.86 billion), an increase which will outpace China’s slowing, single-digit GDP growth, and builds on a nearly unbroken two-decade run of annual double-digit rises in the defense budget.
China has repeatedly said the rise in the defense budget was needed to replace outmoded equipment, and that as the world’s second-largest economy it has growing security needs.
The paper repeated the standard line that China only wants peace and is a force for peace in the world, saying those who talk up the “China threat theory” have “ulterior motives”.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore