China to boost PLA might to win local wars: Premier

Beijing: China`s ruling Communist Party will maintain its "absolute control" over the nation`s 2.3 million- strong People`s Liberation Army (PLA), Premier Wen Jiabao said today, as he announced boosting the military`s capability to win "local wars" in hi-tech conditions.

Wen made this remark in a wide ranging address at the opening of the fifth session of the National People`s Congress (NPC), China`s Parliament and was apparently aimed to put down isolated calls from within the PLA to be placed under government control.

He said that PLA`s main task was to maintain stability, combat terrorism and to strike against opponents. "We will strengthen ideological and political standards and fundamental principle of the party having absolute leadership over the armed forces," Wen said.

The military`s main task was to win "local wars under information-age conditions", Wen said without elaborating.

The Chinese Prime Minister, who along with the President Hu Jiantao is expected to step down later this year, said, "we will enhance the armed forces` capacity and capability", a day after Beijing announced boosting its defence spending to top USD 100 billion in 2012 – a whopping 11.2 per cent increase over last year.

Beijing has for the past decade been increasing by double-digit its military spending, causing concerns in countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the US.

The increase in Chinese defence spending comes at a time when tensions are on the rise between Beijing and its neighbours over maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China has insisted that the growth of its military is natural and does not pose a threat to any other nation.