News Briefs – June 9, 2017


Canada to increase military spending 70 percent in 10 years

Canada’s defense chief announced June 7 the country plans a sharp increase in military spending.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the budget will grow by 70 percent to reach $32.7 billion Canadian ($24.1 billion) in a decade.
That means Canada would spend about 1.4 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2026-27, up from about 1.2 percent now.
U.S. President Trump has demanded that other NATO countries raise spending. The U.S. accounts for more than 70 percent of all NATO defense spending. Only Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland now meet the NATO member goal to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.
Sajjan said the money is designed to make sure Canada is a reliable and credible partner.
The plan calls for 5,000 additional troops, 15 new warships and 88 new fighter jets, up from the planned 65 announced by the previous government.
“If we’re serious about our role in the world, we must be serious about funding our military,” Sajjan said. “And we are.”
Canada has about 800 military personnel in the international mission against the Islamic State group, but removed its fighter jets after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government was elected in late 2015. Canada also has about 200 troops in the Ukraine and 220 in Poland. AP

Beijing lashes out over Pentagon report on Chinese military

Beijing says it is :firmly opposed” to a Pentagon report that highlighted China’s construction of military facilities on man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea and speculated that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas.
The annual report made “irresponsible remarks on China’s national defense development and reasonable actions in defending our territorial sovereignty and security interests in disregard of the facts,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters June 7.
“China is firmly opposed to that,” Hua said, adding that her government was a force for safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
While Hua declined to comment on possible overseas bases, she said China and Pakistan — one of the countries considered most likely to host a Chinese military presence — were close friends that conduct mutually beneficial cooperation in a variety of fields.
China is now building its first overseas base in Djibouti, which it says will help facilitate its participation in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and U.N. peacekeeping operations in the region. The base is near Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base in the Horn of Africa nation, although American military leaders have said they don’t see it as threatening U.S. operations.
“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the Pentagon report said. “This initiative, along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”
The assessment also focused on the military buildup in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
It said that as of late last year, China was building 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities on each of the three largest outposts — Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs. Each has runways that are at least 2,700 meters (8,800 feet) long.
China claims the bases are there to improve navigation safety and assistance for fishermen. But it also says they help reinforce China’s sovereignty claims and that China is fully entitled to provide them with defensive capabilities.
“That we develop national defense is to safeguard China’s independent sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is a legitimate right of a sovereign state,” Hua said, without mentioning the islands directly.
While China objects vocally to U.S. naval operations in the South China Sea, it is eager not to be seen as a threat, and its criticism of the annual Pentagon assessment is part of a drive to avoid being perceived as attempting to seize the mantle as the region’s dominant military force. It has also engaged in a series of dialogues and exchanges with the U.S. military, although the two continue to view each other warily. “We hope the U.S. side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China’s military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries,” Hua said. AP