Despite defense budget rise, China to maintain friendly relations with neighbors: spokesman (UPDATE)
(Previous news was posted at 10:57)
China is willing to maintain friendly relations with neighboring countries such as India in spite of the increase of its defense spending, a Chinese spokesman said Friday, Xinhua reported.
China and India have reached a consensus on maintaining peace and tranquility of their border areas before border issues are eventually settled, said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of China's national legislature.
China is ready to work with its "friendly neighbor" to implement relevant agreements to maintain a stable situation in border areas, which is conducive to the interests of the two countries, said Li, a former foreign minister.
"It is true that China's defense budget is raised a bit, but the ratio of the defense spending in the country's GDP remains very low, much lower than those of many other countries," Li told a press conference for the annual parliamentary session.
While China's military spending amounts to about 1.4 percent of its GDP, "that ratio in India is much higher than 2 percent as far as I know," he said in response to a question on whether China's defense budget increase would put pressure on its neighboring countries such as India.
According to the spokesman, China plans to raise its defense budget by 12.7 percent to 601 billion yuan (91.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, compared with an increase of 7.5 percent last year.
Li said China and India had held 14 rounds of meetings since 2003 in an effort to speed up negotiations for an early solution to border issues.
"China attaches great importance to friendly relations with neighbors. ... Seeking peace, cooperation and development is a shared view of all Asian people, including the people of China and India," he said.