Defense boost to meet ‘complex security tests’

BEIJING — Increases in China’s defense budget have been “appropriate and reasonable” and are aimed at meeting “complex security challenges,” a spokesperson for the country’s rubber-stamp parliament said Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Wang Chao gave no indication of whether the rate of increase to be announced Sunday, March 5, at the opening of the National People’s Congress’s annual session would be above or below last year’s 7.1 percent.

But he said the defense budget has remained stable as a share of GDP and that China’s military modernization “will not be a threat to any country.”

“On the contrary, it will only be a positive force for safeguarding regional stability and world peace,” Wang told reporters at a news conference.

“The increase in defense spending is needed for meeting the complex security challenges and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country,” he said.

“China’s defense spending… is lower than the world average and the increase is appropriate and reasonable,” Wang said.

China spent 1.7 percent of GDP on its military in 2021, according to the World Bank, while the US, with its massive overseas obligations, spent a relatively high 3.5 percent.

China budgeted 1.45 trillion yuan (then $229 billion) for last year.

Consistent annual increases for more than two decades have allowed the two million-member People’s Liberation Army to increase its capabilities across all categories.

Along with the world’s biggest standing army, China has the world’s largest navy and recently launched its third aircraft carrier. It boasts a massive stockpile of missiles, along with stealth aircraft, bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons, advanced surface ships and nuclear powered submarines. (AP)