China raises defense budget for 2023 to $225 billion: biggest increase since pre-pandemic

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) announced on Monday that China’s military spending will rise 7.2 percent this year, the biggest increase since 2019.

China’s total military budget will therefore increase to $225 billion, compared to $801 billion for the United States.

Radio Libre Asia (RFA) has picked up some pretty belligerent vibes from Chinese officials over increased military spending, which is even more significant given China’s slowing economy and modest increase in gross domestic product ( GDP):

Incumbent Premier Li Keqiang, in probably his last government work report, said “external attempts to suppress and contain China are intensifying.”

The army should “carry out military operations, strengthen combat readiness and enhance military capabilities in order to fulfill the tasks assigned to them by the Party and the people,” Li said.

“Increased defense spending is necessary to meet complex security challenges and for China to assume its responsibilities as a great country,” Wang Chao, spokesperson for the National People’s Congress, told reporters at Beijing.

Li, a former contender for the top job who was pushed out of the limelight as Xi accumulated more power, will most likely be replaced as prime minister by a Xi loyalist after the NPC session ends. .

US defense analysts told RFA that China’s increased military spending could be interpreted as a sign that “deterrence” against invading Taiwan or extremely aggressive moves in the South China Sea is working. In short, China’s increased spending is large enough to keep its threats credible, but not large enough to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses.

A Chinese-built airstrip is seen next to man-made island structures and buildings on Mischief Reef in the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea, Sunday, March 20, 2022. (AP Photo /Aaron Favila)

Chinese state media, of course, presented the military budget increase as merely a “reasonable” and “moderate” effort to meet military spending around the world.

“Experts said the increase in the defense budget is reasonable given the country’s military modernization roadmap, growing security threats around the world, as well as optimized Covid-19 policies that encourage the economic growth as well as more military diplomatic activity,” the state said. -run world times played on Sunday.

THE world times said the budget increase was necessary to meet the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on its 100th anniversary in 2027.

“The modernization of national defense consists mainly of developing and procuring new weapons and equipment, maintaining a high level of realistic combat-oriented troop exercises, as well as improving the welfare of military personnel”, the Chinese Communist newspaper said, listing more stealth fighters and a third aircraft carrier as items on the PLA shopping list.

THE world times was grumpy about foreign suspicions that China’s big spending increases could mean more aggressive behavior from Beijing in the future:

The United States and its allies, including Japan, have provoked the Taiwan question and potential military conflicts with China. The US military frequently sends planes and ships to carry out close reconnaissance on China’s doorstep, sometimes entering China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and defiantly transiting through the Taiwan Strait, causing trouble. Japan officially broke its principle of defense only after World War II in 2022 and began to procure offensive missiles, including American-made Tomahawks, which could reach foreign countries.

Many countries around the world are splurging on military spending in 2023, with the United States topping the list with an $817 billion budget for the Pentagon, more than three times that of China. Japan has planned a defense budget of $51 billion, a record 26.3% more than the previous year. India is expected to increase its defense budget by 13%. Other countries like the UK, France, Germany and Australia are also looking to increase defense spending, according to media reports.

THE BBC noted Monday that China systematically underestimates its actual military budget in data released to foreigners, and that actual increases in spending have instead been in the range of 10% per year over the past decade.

A pilot of a J-10 fighter jet from the Bayi aerobatic team of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) salutes during the 2022 Changchun Air Show at Changchun Airport. Changchun Dafangshen on Aug. 29, 2022, in Changchun, Jilin Province of China. (Photo by Zhou Guoqiang/VCG via Getty Images)

THE the wall street journal (WSJ) pointed out that despite China’s insistence that increases to its military budget be in line with those of the rest of the world, China has a disproportionate standing army of 2.2 million people and the most of its increased spending is being pumped into “advanced technologies that help project China’s power beyond its shores” — in other words, equipment it could use to start a war.

The most likely target of large-scale Chinese aggression remains Taiwan.

“We know, as it has been made public, that President Xi has ordered the PLA, China’s military leadership, to be ready by 2027 to invade Taiwan, but that doesn’t mean he has decided to invade in 2027 or any other year. so,” CIA Director William Burns observed last week.

On Monday, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said its forces are reportedly on alert this year for a “sudden entry” of Chinese ships and aircraft into Taiwan’s contiguous territorial space.

China’s threatening incursions into Taiwanese airspace and waters have so far been limited to the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around the island. The territorial air and sea space is much smaller and closer to Taiwan, extending only about 24 nautical miles from the coast.

Chiu said China is “making such preparations” for a major escalation in its defiant behavior and may seek an opportunity to “stir up trouble under some pretext,” such as visits to Taiwan by senior officials from allied countries.


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