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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006, 07:50 GMT
China's military budget jumps 14%
China's soldiers in Nanjing
The Chinese army is the biggest in the world
China has said it will increase its military spending by 14.7% this year to 283.8bn yuan ($35.3bn; 20bn).

However, a spokesman for the Chinese parliament said much of the rise would be to cover fuel and salaries and that China was a "peace-loving nation".

Jiang Enzhu said the US spent a greater proportion of its economy on defence and that China had "no intention of vigorously developing armaments".

The US has several times accused China of understating its military budget.

Neighbours' concerns

China's armed forces are the biggest in the world and have seen double-digit increases in military spending since the early 1990s.

China is committed to a path of peaceful development
Jiang Enzhu
Chinese parliament spokesman
The increases have caused concern for neighbours Japan and Taiwan.

The US has also expressed fears over the spending on the 2.5m-strong military.

Washington has several times accused China of understating its military budget.

It said last year's spend was not the $30bn stated but closer to $90bn.

China insists its spending is in line with rises in other governments.

Mr Jiang said: "China's defence budget has risen in recent years along with the development of its economy.

"But the proportion of the budget given over to defence spending is much the same as in past years."

China also says its military spending is dwarfed by the US. The US department of defence had a base budget of $400bn in 2005.

Mr Jiang said China's increases would go on salaries, new equipment, training and higher fuel costs.

He added: "I wish to emphasise that China is a peace-loving nation. China is committed to a path of peaceful development."

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