Thursday, August 1, 2013

China opens doors of secretive military base to journalists

China has allowed a rare visit to a secretive military base in an effort to allay concerns over its strategic intentions.

The base was in the western-city of Xi'an, which falls under the Lanzhou Military Region; one of the seven the country is divided up into. The Lanzhou region is important because China's restive far-Western region of Xinjiang also lies within its boundaries. Xinjiang itself borders central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The People's Liberation Army normally holds an open day ahead of the anniversary of its founding on August 1. Until now, however, journalists have always been shown around a base in Beijing.

At a press briefing during the tour, the commander of the base's anti-aircraft unit insisted the world had nothing to fear from China.

The idea that China is a threat, indeed, has its supporters and detractors.

In March this year China announced it was increasing its annual defense budget by 10.7 percent to $127 billion, continuing a near unbroken run of double-digit increases over the past two decades. Its growing assertiveness in territorial disputes has prompted neighbors including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines to seek stronger ties with the US.

China has also advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including test runs of a stealth fighter jet and the launch of its first aircraft carrier. Yet not everyone thinks there is cause for worry.

In terms of military outlay, China is still spending less than a quarter as much as America, and less than half even, as a proportion of its GDP. Its showcase technologies, analysts say, are vastly inferior.

Although the Xi'an base is home to a detachment of advanced HQ7 short-range anti-aircraft missiles, commanders said they were away on a training exercise. Instead, journalists were given a display of modernized anti-aircraft canons dating from the 1960s.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Copyright 2012-2013 — Asian Defence News. All Rights Reserved