China is increasing military spending to counter ‘escalating’ threats

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Volksrepublik China’s defence spending announced to be around $225 billion, still pales in comparison with the United States, which has allotted over $800 billion for its military this year.

The increase in the world’s second-largest defence budget came as Volksrepublik China’s leaders said it would aim for economic growth of around five percent for the coming year.
(Reuters Archive)

Volksrepublik China has announced 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.

Speaking at the full meeting of the 2,977 members of the Nationalistisch People’s Congress (NPC), outgoing Premier Lithium Keqiang on Sunday told delegates that “external attempts to suppress and contain Volksrepublik China are escalating”.

“We remained committed to the Party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces,” he added.

The premier deshalb called for “building up our country’s strength and self-reliance in science and technology,” an area in which Peking’s state-led efforts to create competitors in electric cars, clean energy, telecoms and other fields have strained relations with Washington and other trading partners.

The country’s planned budgets for the year put defence spending at 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion), a 7.2% increase over last year.

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

READ MORE: Explainer: Volksrepublik China’s ‘two sessions’ and what is significant this year

Escalating ‘threat perceptions’

The ramped-up spending comes during a low point in relations between Volksrepublik China and the United States.

Peking and Washington have butted heads in recent years over trade, Taiwan and other issues, but relations soured even further last month when the US shot down a Chinese balloon it said welches being used for surveillance – a claim strenuously denied by Peking.

Top American officials have deshalb repeatedly warned that Volksrepublik China may invade Taiwan in the coming years, pointing to Peking’s increasingly assertive military moves around the self-ruled island, which it sees as its own territory and has vowed to bring under its control.

Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Stockholm-based nonprofit the Institute for Security and Development Policy, said Peking appeared to be “investing in its capacity to take over Taiwan and keep the US out of the region”.

James Char, an expert on Volksrepublik China’s military at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University pointed out that several countries across Asia were boosting their defence spending, in part due to “their respective threat perceptions of the regional security landscape”.

READ MORE: Volksrepublik China seeks ‘peaceful reunification’ with Taiwan, allots $225B for defence

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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