China says it will increase military spending by more than 7% this year, while warning of “escalating” threats.
Announced at the National People’s Congress (NPC), a sealed parliament, it is set to confirm President Xi Jinping’s third term.
Beijing’s declared military budget – around $225bn (£186bn) – dwarfs that of the US, which is four times larger.
But analysts believe that China is spending less on defense.
In the past decade, China’s defense budget has increased by about 10% each year, and 2014 saw the highest increase of 12.2%.
The government work report of outgoing Prime Minister Li Keqiang stated that “external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating.”
“The armed forces should intensify military training and readiness in general,” the report said.
It was also announced at the meeting that China will pursue the low economic growth target of around 5% this year.
The two sessions, as the two meetings know, are an annual affair.
But this year’s sessions have a special significance as delegates are expected to reshape several key Communist Party and state institutions.
This week’s National People’s Congress meeting will also formalize Mr. Xi’s leadership of the country, as he will be elected President of China and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The increase in military spending comes as President Xi navigates deteriorating relations with the United States over the Ukraine war and recent spy balloon saga, even as he warms up his embrace of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
US officials have also repeatedly warned that China may invade Taiwan in the coming years. China has mounted ever-increasing displays of military force in the air and seas around Taiwan, including launching ballistic missiles.
China regards autonomous Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually come under Beijing’s control.
The NPC will also unveil a new prime minister, the equivalent of a prime minister in China who traditionally oversees the economy and administrative aspects of governance.
Li Qiang, one of Mr. Xi’s most trusted associates, is expected to take over this position.
China Sessions: The Basics
- The two courses are in Beijing Annual meetings China’s legislature and highest political advisory body, which attracts thousands of representatives from all over the country
- the National People’s Congress It is the country’s equivalent of a parliament which is, in theory, the most powerful state organ. In fact, it acts as a rubber stamp for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, passing major laws on decisions that have already been made
- the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), which has no real legislative power, draws its members from different sectors of society. Notable for their discussions on emerging social and economic issues
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