China’s defence spending to accelerate in 2018

- Agence France-Presse, BEIJING

Mar 6, 2018-

China announced on Monday an 8.1 percent defence budget increase for 2018, giving the world’s largest armed forces a boost after spending slowed in the previous two years.

Beijing will spend 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion) on its military, according to a budget report presented before the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress.

The outlay compares with a seven percent increase last year and 7.6 percent in 2016, which marked the first time in six years that spending growth was not in double figures.

China spent $151 billion on the People’s Liberation Army last year, the second largest defence budget in the world but still four times less than the $603 billion US outlay, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank.

The defence budget increase has roughly kept pace with China’s national economic output in recent years. 

The economy grew by 6.9 percent in 2017 and the government said Monday it will target growth of around 6.5 percent in 2018.

China’s neighbours and the United States have watched warily as Beijing has modernised the world’s largest army, reducing its ground troops to two million soldiers while spending on state-of-the-art hardware and weapons.

Since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jingping has trumpeted the need to build a stronger combat-ready military, while cementing his leadership over the army, which was ordered to pledge absolute loyalty to him last year.

At a major Communist Party congress in October, Xi vowed to build a “world-class” fighting force by 2050.

The PLA has stocked up on stealth fighter jets, warships and high-tech weaponry over the years.

Published: 06-03-2018 09:49

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