| 28 March 2023, Tuesday |

China increases military spending in face of threats

China said Sunday its military spending would rise at the fastest pace in four years, warning of “escalating” threats from abroad.


The country’s planned budgets for the year put defense spending at 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion), a 7.2 percent rise and the quickest rate of increase since 2019. It officially rose 7.1 percent last year.


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 as he presented the government’s annual work report.


The NPC opened on a smoggy day amid tight security in the Chinese capital, with 2,948 delegates gathered in the cavernous Great Hall of the People on the west side of Tiananmen Square.


It is the first NPC meeting since China abruptly dropped its zero-COVID policy in December, following rare nationwide protests. Excluding the pandemic-shortened meetings of the previous three years, this year’s session will be the shortest in at least 40 years, according to NPC Observer, a blog.


The military must “devote greater energy to training under combat conditions, and… strengthen military work in all directions and domains”, the outgoing Premier said.


China’s defense spending still pales in comparison with the United States, which has allotted over $800 billion for its military this year.


But analysts have said Beijing spends much more money than the officially announced sums.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat