The United States Department of Defense’s Report on China’s Military Power was severely criticized by Chinese official media. On huanqiu.com, the website of the Huanqiu Times, a newspaper published under Xinhua News Agency, a survey on “Should China maintain its current military budget increase?” was conducted. The result of the survey was that 96 percent of people thought that China should strengthen its defenses and keep its current military budget increase. Below is the full translation of the article published in the Huanqiu Times. 
Should China maintain its annual military budget increase of 17.6 percent? After China published its 2008 defense budget, huanqiu.com conducted a survey on “Should China maintain its current military budget increase?” By the end of the survey, ( 9 pm. on March 10th, 2008,) 96 percent of the participants thought that China should strengthen its defenses and keep its current military budget increase.
One survey participant: “For the fourth most economically powerful country, which is still not unified, is it too much to increase military budget?”
The survey of “Should China maintain its current annual military budget increase” started at 12 pm. on March 6, 2008 and ended 9 pm. on March 10, 2008. A total of 5928 Internet users participated in the survey. Among them, 5713 people (96 percent) voted “yes” and 215 people (4 percent) vote “no”. The total messages on this topic were more than 176 pages long. Messages from the supportive side were obviously very active and enthusiastic. One person said: “Our country is vast in terms of territory. If there is no strong national defense system to safeguard it, it will end up like the Qing Dynasty, losing dignity and being shameful! I think we all remember all of the unfair treaties in China’s modern history; would we really like to see that happen again? So I strongly support the increase of the defense budget!” One Internet user left this message in English, “When you step out of the country, you will understand how badly our country needs a strong national defense system.”
The Internet voters expressed their extreme repugnance for Western countries’ comments on China’s military budget. One person taunted, “Western countries want to see the PLA fight with swords and lances!” As for the US government’s worrying about China’s military budget increase, one person said, “The United States has the most expensive military budget. It has never been threatened by any country, but still spends several hundred billion dollars on its military budget. Why don’t they criticize themselves?”
In addition, the issue of China’s unification was a focal point. Many people thought that the situation of the Taiwan Strait was the most important factor in determining the need for strong national defense. One person left a message, “The United States is deploying powerful military power along the Taiwan Strait. If China does not have a strong military deterrent, it won’t guarantee that we might not lose Taiwan someday.” Another person said, “As the fourth most economically powerful country, China is still not unified. Is it too much to expect to increase our military budget?”
Compared with the supportive side, the messages from the opposing side did not seem very fervent. They were mainly concerned about the lesson learned from the Soviet Union and Western countries’ theory of China’s threat. One message said, “The economic development is the most important task now for China. Only by the improvement of economics and development of technology will there be real and persistent development of military power. If only military power is developed but economic development is ignored, our lessons learned could be like those of the former Soviet Union. By maintaining a moderate increase of our military budget, the suspicion from the international community would be reduced, which would benefit the economic development in a peaceful environment and China’s peaceful rise.”
Expert: Survey Participants’ Reactions Reflect Reality of China’s Security
Zhou Fangyin, an expert on international affairs from the China Academy of Social Science, said, “This survey was conducted after China published its defense budget. What followed was, viewed by the Chinese, Western media’s wanton exaggeration about China’s threat. This conflict stimulated the Internet users’ enthusiasm to vote, thus this survey should relatively reflect the true public opinion from China’s Internet users.”
Zhou Fangyin, also told the Huanqiu Times reporters during the interview, “It is not difficult to understand that so many survey participants supported this issue, because they directly felt the actual need for strong defense at present.”
Zhou Fangyin thought the three main reasons for such widespread support from Internet users on China’s increase of military budget were: first, China is still facing the unification issue. China is the only member among the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members that still has a unification issue. The status as a United Nations Security Council permanent member and the reality of the country’s disunion are serious contradictions in Chinese people’s minds.
Second, China is the country that has the most neighboring countries and the complexity of its boundary environment is rare. Furthermore, in recent years, the Chinese have seen more of China’s economic rise. However, strong military power is what people feel their security should rely on. In reality, few things can let Chinese people feel their country’s strong defense. This kind of setback feeling contrasts dramatically with China’s powerful economic power on the world stage. In other words, China’s “great nation aspiration” is still short of critical support.
Finally, Zhou Fangyin said that the fundamental reason for maintaining the military budget increase is true demand. Although China’s military budget is about the same as Great Britain and Japan, how big are these countries? How many security issues do they face? The main reason that Western countries exaggerated the issue of China’s military budget is because of their distrust of China.
 Huanqiu Times, March 11, 2008