Skip to main content
Best News Website or Mobile Service
WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Worldwide 2022
Best News Website or Mobile Service
Digital Media Awards Worldwide 2022
Hamburger Menu




China increases military spending in face of 'escalating' threats

China increases military spending in face of 'escalating' threats

File photo of a Chinese soldier holding his country's flag. (File photo: AFP/Vyacheslav Oseledko)

BEIJING: China announced Sunday (Mar 5) an increase in its military spending while warning of "escalating" threats from abroad, at a meeting of its parliament that is set to hand Xi Jinping a third term as president.

The increase in the world's second-largest defence budget came as China's leaders said it would aim for economic growth of around 5 per cent for the coming year - one of its lowest in decades.

As the country unveiled the 1.55 trillion yuan (US$225 billion) budget, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang told delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC) that "external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating".

"The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board," he said.

The military, he added, must "devote greater energy to training under combat conditions, and ... strengthen military work in all directions and domains".

This year's hike in defence spending marks the eighth consecutive single-digit increase. As in previous years, no breakdown of the spending was given, only the overall amount and the rate of increase.

Beijing is nervous about challenges on fronts ranging from Taiwan to US naval and air missions in the disputed South China Sea near Chinese-occupied islands.

China staged war games near Taiwan last August to express anger at the visit to Taipei of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Li Mingjiang, associate professor at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said defence spending outpacing the economic growth forecast showed China anticipates facing greater pressures in its external security environment, especially from the United States and on the Taiwan issue.

"Chinese leaders are clearly intensifying efforts to prepare the country militarily to meet all potential security challenges, including unexpected situations," he said.

China, with the world's largest military in terms of personnel, is busy adding a slew of new hardware, including aircraft carriers and stealth fighters.


Beijing says its military spending for defensive purposes is a comparatively low percentage of its GDP and that critics want to demonise it as a threat to world peace.

"The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board, develop new military strategic guidance, devote greater energy to training under combat conditions and make well-coordinated efforts to strengthen military work in all directions and domains," Premier Li said.

Takashi Kawakami, a professor of Takushoku University in Tokyo, said China would probably give priority to its nuclear capability.

"As China strengthens the new area of cognitive warfare over Taiwan, I think it will also use the budget to build up its cyber and space capabilities, as well as its submarine forces to target undersea cables," he said.

China's reported defence budget in 2023 is about a quarter of proposed US spending, though many diplomats and foreign experts believe Beijing under-reports the real number.

The fiscal 2023 US defence budget authorises US$858 billion in military spending and includes funding for purchases of weapons, ships and aircraft, and support for Taiwan and for Ukraine as it fights an invasion by Russia.

China has long argued that it needs to close the gap with the United States. China, for example, has three aircraft carriers, compared with 11 in active service for the United States.

The Ukraine war has prompted some elements in China's military-industrial complex to call for an increase in the defence budget.

An article published last October in the official journal of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, a central government ministry responsible for wartime logistics, recommended an increase in the military budget given surges in defence spending from NATO member-states besides the United States.

"This matter is not about participating in the international arms race, but defending our national security," it said. 

Source: Agencies/zl


Also worth reading