China’s annual defense budget will maintain single-digit growth for the eighth consecutive year, with a 7.2% increase in 2023, according to a draft budget unveiled on Sunday.
Planned defense spending for the world’s second-largest economy will be 1.5537 trillion yuan (224.79 billion U.S. dollars) this year, says the report on draft central and local budgets submitted to China’s national legislature session. . Last year, the increase was 7.1%.
China’s military spending has long been at the center of Western scrutiny, and the so-called “China threat” has been exaggerated nearly every year.
Describing the increase in the national defense budget as “appropriate and reasonable”, Wang Chao, spokesperson for the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress, told reporters on Saturday that growth is necessary to address complex security challenges and for the China fulfills its responsibilities as a great country.
China follows a national defense policy of a defensive nature. The country has stressed on several occasions that no matter how much it spends on defense or how modern its armed forces are, China will never seek hegemony, expansion or a sphere of influence.
This is in stark contrast to the United States, which currently has around 800 military bases overseas, with 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries.
In recent years, the average annual US military budget has accounted for more than 40% of the world’s total, more than the 15 countries that trail behind combined.
China’s national defense budget is about a quarter that of the United States, which totaled about $858 billion in 2023.
In per capita terms, China’s national defense spending is only one-sixteenth that of the United States.
Noting that national defense spending is determined based on overall consideration of the need for defense construction and a country’s level of economic development, Wang noted that China’s national defense spending as a share of GDP, which is below average worldwide, have been kept basically stable for many years.
“China’s future is closely intertwined with that of the entire world. Chinese military modernization will not be a threat to any country. On the contrary, it will only be a positive force to safeguard regional stability and world peace,” he said.
China is a top contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop contributor among permanent members of the UN Security Council, sending more than 50,000 people on peacekeeping missions over the past three decades.
Published in People’s Daily (China)