Bejing: According to a draft budget report presented on Friday to National People’s Congress (NPC) of China, the country has increased its defense budget by 6.6 percent to USD 179 billion.
The increment is the lowest recorded in the past years, in view of the coronavirus pandemic causing huge impact to its economy. The number is still three times more than that of India.
The draft budget says that China’s military of two million soldiers will continue to keep its low defense budget growth rate to 6.6% in 2020. This is the lowest growth year in the recent times, and the fifth consecutive year to see a single-digit growth, Xinhua news agency reported.
China’s defense budget this year will be around 1.27 trillion yuan (about USD 179 billion) against last year’s USD 177.61 billion, according to the draft submitted to the NPC.
Its total defense costs in 2019 amounted to only a quarter of that of the United States, the world’s largest defense spender, while the per capita expenditure was just about one-seventeenth, the report stated.
On Thursday Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the NPC in a media conference spoke against the criticism being faced by china hiding its transparency in China’s defense expenditure which the analysts say bearing in mind the speedy growth of Beijing’s military and modern weapons is far higher than what is announced. Zhang said that China had no “hidden military spending”.
“It has been submitting reports on its military expenditures to the United Nations every year since 2007. From where the money comes from to how the money is used, everything is accounted for,” Zhang said.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the military expenditure figures of China’s defense spending in 2019 amounted to USD 232 billion. Beijing’s massive defense drive is forcing India and other nations to increase their respective defense budgets to make sure that there is a reasonable balance of power.
India’s budget for 2020 amounted to USD 66.9 billion (Rs 4,71,378 crore) according to a write-up in Indian Institute for Defence and Analysis (IDSA). China’s latest budget of USD 179 billion is about 2.7 times more than that of India.
“China’s defence spending has been staying at around 1.3 per cent of its gross domestic product for many years, well below the world’s average of 2.6 per cent,” Zhang said.
The increasing enmities between US and China has accounted for the decrease in its defense budget and economy, made worse by the coronavirus.
China’s GDP hiked by 6 per cent in the three months to September 30, 2019, the weakest quarterly growth rate since 1992 and down from 6.2 per cent in the April-June period, according to government statistics.
The defense budget announcement comes as China remains locked in protective disputes with neighboring countries including India, Japan and Vietnam and the prevailing fights with US.