Last Update: March 05, 2023, 10:01 AM IST
China will increase defense spending by 7.2% this year, slightly higher than last year’s increase and faster than the government’s modest economic growth forecast, as Premier Li Keqiang asked the armed forces to boost combat preparedness. Said.
The 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion) in military spending in the national budget released on Sunday is closely watched by China’s neighbors and in Washington as a barometer of how aggressively the country will bolster its military.
This year’s growth marks the eighth consecutive double digit growth. As in previous years, no breakdown of spending was given, only the total amount and rate of increase.
The spending boost targets economic growth of around 5%, slightly below last year’s target as the world’s second-largest economy faces domestic constraints.
Beijing has been rattled by challenges on a host of fronts ranging from Chinese-claimed Taiwan to US naval and air missions in the disputed South China Sea near islands it holds.
China conducted exercises near Taiwan last August to express anger over the visit of then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
In his work report for the annual session of parliament, Li said that military operations, capacity building and war preparations should be “well-coordinated to carry out major tasks”.
“Our armed forces should work to conduct military operations, boost war preparedness and enhance military capabilities, focusing on the goals of the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027,” he said. Addressing a largely rubber-stamp legislature.
China, with the world’s largest military in terms of personnel, is busy adding new hardware, including aircraft carriers and stealth fighters.
Its development and Beijing’s strategic intentions have raised concerns regionally and in Washington, especially as tensions over Taiwan have risen in recent years.
Beijing says its military spending for defensive purposes is a relatively low percentage of its GDP and critics want to portray it as a threat to world peace.
Li said, “The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board, develop new military strategic guidance, devote more energy to training in combat conditions, and strengthen military work in all directions and areas.” There should be a coordinated effort to do this.”
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)