BEIJING: China on Saturday announced that it will increase its defence spending by around seven per cent this year, the slowest hike since 2010, even as it vowed to guard against “outside forces” interfering in its territorial disputes.
The increase in defence spending announced by Fu Ying, the spokesperson of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), is expected to take the country’s defence budget to about 1.02 trillion yuan, which is three times bigger than India’s new defence budget of USD 53.5 billion.
The exact figure for this year’s defence budget will be announced in Premier Li Keqiang’s work report to the NPC tomorrow when China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament begins its annual session.
The nearly seven per cent increase could be China’s slowest defence budget rise in at least a decade, marking the second time for the defence budget increase to dip into the single digit since 2010, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Last year, China increased its defence spending by 7.6 per cent, allocating about 954 billion yuan (around USD 143.7 billion).
A year before that, China increased the defence spending by about 15 per cent as part of its efforts to modernise the world’s largest military of 2.3 million troops.
China’s announcement to increase defence spending comes after US President Donald Trump vowed a 10 per cent increase in America’s military spending of about USD 600 billion.
Much of China’s budget this year was expected to go for the development of navy as the second largest economy looks to expand its influence beyond its shores.
China’s claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea have caused a lot of concern in the region.
China currently has one aircraft carrier and is building another. Chinese defence officials say that the third is also in the pipeline to match the growing strength of US navy in hotspots like the disputed South China Sea. “China’s military capacity building will be continued.
This is the requirement for safeguarding our national sovereignty and security,” Fu told media.