China Defence Spending Rise to Outpace GDP Target This Year | World News

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will spend 7.1% more on defence this year, outpacing last year’s spending hike and the government’s modest economic growth forecast as Premier Li Keqiang seeks to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests.

Li pledged to enhance military training and combat readiness for the People’s Liberation Army, which is developing an array of weapons from stealth fighters to aircraft carriers.

The spending figure, set at 1.45 trillion yuan ($229.47 billion) in the national budget released on Saturday, is closely watched by China’s neighbours and in Washington as a barometer of how aggressively the country will beef up its military.

This year’s 7.1% hike marks the seventh consecutive single-digit increase, but is the fastest pace since the 7.5% proposed for 2019.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

It also comes in above targeted slower economic growth of around 5.5% amid domestic headwinds for the world’s second largest economy, including a downturn in the country’s vast real estate sector and lacklustre consumption.

China is nervous about challenges on several fronts, ranging from Chinese-claimed Taiwan to U.S. naval and air missions in the disputed South China Sea near Chinese-occupied islands and a festering border dispute with India.

Li, in his state-of-the-nation address to the largely rubber-stamp legislature, said this year the government would move faster to modernise the military’s logistics and asset management systems, and build a modern weaponry and equipment management system.

“We will continue the reform of national defence and the military and step up innovations in defence science and technology,” he added.

“Government at all levels must give strong support to the development of national defence and the armed forces, so unity between the military and government and between the military and the people will remain rock solid.”

The budget gives only a raw figure for military expenditure, with no breakdown. Many diplomats and foreign experts believe Beijing under-reports the real number.

($1 = 6.3188 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian, writing by Ben Blanchard; editing by Jane Wardell)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *