Beijing says its defense budget in 2018 is up 8.1 percent, but still lower than other major economies. But many expressed concerns and asked China to explain more about defense spending.
On March 5, Prime Minister Li Keqiang presented a report to the government at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (National Assembly). It is noteworthy that China’s Ministry of Finance will increase its defense budget 8.1 percent for 2018, reaching an estimated 1,106.95 billion yuan ($ 174.8 billion).
China: Increase nothing too much!
Chinese National Assembly spokesman Qiang yao explained that much of the defense budget growth was intended to offset the already low levels of defense spending in the past; This budget is mainly used to modernize equipment, improve military life and training conditions and the lives of military units.
“In terms of the ratio between the defense budget and GDP, the level of national financial spending, or per capita, China’s defense spending is still lower than the area of the country”.
China’s defense spending last year reached $161.87 billion, or just 1.3 percent of GDP, the Xinhua news agency reported.
China’s defense budget is only a quarter of the United States’ defense budget, which remains transparent and does not threaten anyone but modernize old equipment and protect the national interests, especially in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
“Over the years, China’s maritime interests have been increasingly mocked, so naturally building a more powerful military to protect its interests and deal with threats will can become reality through the aggressive actions of other countries to panic because of China’s momentum. ”
Reuters news source from Xinhua said at a news conference in Beijing on March 5 that the Chinese military delegation attended the National People’s Congress (People’s Congress) in China. Strengthening the military training and preparing the war to increase the capacity of victory.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Global Times also commented on the kind of challenge that if China really wanted to develop its military, the defense budget would have to increase from 20% to 30%, not just 8.1% in the year 2018.
The paper explains that China’s defense budgets increase due to the following reasons: The US has “provoked” the South China Sea, the tense situation in the Taiwan Strait and the US-Japan-Australia-India alliance.
Military veteran at Shanghai University reiterated in the context of tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Indian border, the rising Chinese defense budget is not excessive and “this symbolic increase actually, it does not seem to increase.”
Last year China spent $151 billion on defense, four times less than the US ($ 603 billion), but more than Saudi Arabia ($77 billion), Russia ($61 billion), India ($53 billion), Britain ($51 billion) and France ($49 billion).
Very alarming, need to be more transparent!
Contrary to the Chinese argument, many expressed concerns.
Andrew Richardson of the US Naval War College estimates that 8.1 percent increase in China’s defense budget is higher than the GDP growth rate (6.5 percent in 2018), a sign of military strategy.
He explained that Xi Jinping’s strategy of building great China was based not only on the “Chinese dream” of culture but based on military power.
Sam Roggeveen of the Center for Defense Strategic Studies (Australian National University) warns that the pace and scale of China’s defense budget increase is alarming for Australia and many other countries in the region.
“All indications are that China wants to expand what China calls defensive capabilities in the South China Sea, and then we will see warships and planes going regularly to the South China Sea if not deployed”.
According to Newsweek, diplomats have said that China’s actual defense spending must be more than double of its defense budget.
Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific fleet, has called for more transparency and clarification on defense spending, which has been a cause of concern in Tokyo on March 6.
“The most worrying is the lack of transparency,” he said, “and there are many more questions in the minds, of how accurate these spendings are. He also called on China to clarify its intention to build military facilities in the South China Sea.