China is to up its defence budget by 17.8 percent in 2007. Military spending will reach some 34 billion euros, an increase of around 5 billion. China is seeking to modernise its huge but often poorly equipped military force of over 2.5 million personnel. The move maintains pressure on Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China says must accept eventual reunification. Spokesperson for the National People’s Congress Jiang Enshu offered this warning: “We don’t accept Taiwan independence forces and will not allow anyone to split Taiwan from China.”
China has urged US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, on a visit to Beijing, to halt the proposed sale of missiles to Taiwan. The United States is Taiwan’s main arms supplier, something the Chinese vehemently oppose. The Peoples Republic said any missile sales would seriously violate previous commitments made by Washington to reduce arms sales to the Island. China and Taiwan separated in 1949 but China maintains territorial claims and has threatened repeatedly to attack.