China will take steps to increase the transparency of its military operations, reporting expenditures to the United Nations and resuming updates about its arms sales, an official said Sunday.
Countries such as the U.S. and Japan have questioned the pace and amount of China's defense spending.
Beijing will give the U.N. secretary-general "basic data of its military expenditures for the latest fiscal year," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted Sunday on the ministry's Web site.
"This is a significant step on the part of China in further enhancing its military transparency," she said.
Messages seeking comment were left on the cell phones of U.N. spokesmen in Geneva.
China had stopped providing data for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms — which details imports and exports of seven categories of conventional arms — in 1996, after a "certain country" gave the register details about its arms sales to Taiwan, Jiang said in the statement. The country was not named.
China will resume giving data on its arms deals because the country has stopped providing information on Taiwan, Jiang said. The Foreign Ministry statement said China would provide information starting this year, but did not give a specific date.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing still regards the self-governing island as Chinese territory. China has threatened war if Taiwan tries to formalize its de facto independence.
Beijing has used its influence to keep Taiwan barred from membership in the U.N. and most other international organizations.
China is also a major arms exporter to Sudan, and has faced criticism from human rights activists who have said the weapons have been used in attacks in the violence-wracked Darfur region.
Jiang defended China's arms deals, saying the government has "all along taken a prudent and responsible attitude in its arms export and implemented strict controls on such exports."
China says spending for its People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing army with 2.3 million members, grew 17.8 percent this year to about $44.94 billion. It was the largest annual increase in more than a decade.
The Pentagon estimates China's actual defense spending may be much higher, because the official budget does not include money for high-priced weapons systems and some other items.
Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2007, 17:49