China and India should enhance mutual understanding and boost cooperation rather than dwelling on disputes, said National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesperson Fu Ying at a press conference on March 4.
The two countries have witnessed rapid development of bilateral trade over recent decades, surging from US$2 billion in the 1990s to over US$70 billion last year, Fu said at the opening press conference of the NPC session this year.
China and India have seen frequent mutual visits by state leaders, and the two countries have established a mechanism to jointly combat cross-border crimes and terrorism, Fu added.
China and India have reached consensus on regional and international issues, Fu said, and the two countries should not let disputes stand in the way of bilateral cooperation.
In response to questions concerning China’s national defense budget, which attract enormous attention in the overseas press, Fu said China has maintained a stable level of national defense expenditure in recent years.
China will increase its defense budget by about 7 percent this year, and overall military spending will remain around 1.3 percent of GDP, said Fu.
Fu said there is no need for other countries to be alarmed by China’s defense measures because the nation has never caused any harm to others, and its improvement of defense capabilities is in the interest of regional peace and security.
Responding to press concern that some policies recently enacted by the U.S. president might add volatility to China-U.S. relations, Fu said the prospects for cooperation between the two countries remain good.
There are a lot of exchanges between the NPC and the U.S. Congress, said Fu, and the NPC will continue exchanges with the U.S. Congress this year to boost communication and understanding.
“We should deal with the China-U.S. trade deficit through further expanding the trade volume, as many U.S. lawmakers are concerned about the issue,” Fu added.
When it comes to environmental protection, Fu said China is stepping up legislation on prevention of water and soil pollution as “water and soil pollution in some areas in China is very serious.”
Progress has been made in environmental protection in China, but it still falls far short of public expectations, and air pollution in particular is very serious in parts of China in winter, so persistence is needed, Fu said.
The NPC will continue to improve legislation on environmental protection and supervision of the implementation of laws, Fu added.
At the press conference, Fu also answered other questions on topics including food safety, internet safety, property tax, financial regulation, etc.
The annual meeting of China’s top legislature, the 5th session of the 12th National People’s Congress, will open on March 5 and conclude on March 15, and China’s lawmakers will deliberate six reports including the government work report, draft general provisions of civil law, and three bills concerning the election of deputies to the 13th NPC.