China sets $175bn military budget

by Abel Hampton March 7, 2018, 7:18
China sets $175bn military budget

China does not provide a breakdown for how it allocates its defense budget, leading neighbors and other military powers to complain that Beijing's lack of transparency has added to regional tensions.

The announcement of China increasing its military spending comes as President Xi Jinping, the commander-in- chief of the country's over 2-million-strong armed forces, focuses on cementing his status as the most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.

The 2018 defense budget will be 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion USD), according to a report issued at the opening of the country's annual meeting of parliament.

It is also widely believed that China's actual spending on defence exceeds the allocation that is made public.

Defence spending, he said, would rise by 8.1 percent, its fastest pace in three years, as the country faced "profound changes in the national security environment" and continued to modernise its armed forces. The Pentagon has requested a budget of $686 billion in 2019, up $80 billion from 2017.

In 2017, China had increased its defence budget by 7%, the lowest increase in seven years and second year in a row in which the hike was below the double digit mark.

China will "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests", Premier Li Keqiang said in an address at parliament's opening session.

"China should take global concerns seriously, increase its defence budget's transparency and give up its targeted military deployment towards Taiwan in order to avoid an escalation of regional tension", it said.

"There is every indication that China wants to expand what it will call defence capabilities in the South China Sea".

China's announcement of growth target comes at a time when it has been engaged in a trade conflict with the United States after President Donald Trump said he would impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminium to protect U.S. producers.

The defence spending figure is closely watched worldwide for clues to China's strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.

The unchanged growth target was "fitting", China said, as its economy was moving from a phase of "rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development" and would allow it to "achieve relatively full employment", BBC reported. In 2016, it grew 7.6 percent.

In real terms, the defence budget of the world's largest armed forces, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) a year ago was around $ 146 billion-mark, a quarter of the U.S. defence outlay.

China's defence budget takes up a smaller share of its gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure compared with other major countries, Zhang Yesui, the spokesperson of the NPC told the media here Sunday.

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