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China plans to raise defense spending by 7.2% to $231b

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2024-03-05 10:07
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Guided-missile destroyer Jiaozuo of the 46th fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy leaves a military port in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong province, Feb 21, 2024. The 46th fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy on Wednesday set sail from a military port in the coastal city of Zhanjiang in South China's Guangdong province to take over an escort mission from the 45th naval fleet in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Chinese government has proposed a defense budget of 1.67 trillion yuan ($231 billion) for the 2024 fiscal year, a 7.2 percent year-on-year increase, according to a draft budget report submitted to the national legislature on Tuesday morning.

The figures were included in the report prepared by the Ministry of Finance and distributed to lawmakers at the opening meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

If approved by lawmakers, the proposed expenditure will maintain single-digit growth for a ninth consecutive year since 2016, and will remain the same percentage increase like that in 2023.

At the NPC session last year, the Chinese government proposed a defense budget of 1.55 trillion yuan for the 2023 fiscal year, a 7.2 percent year-on-year increase. The 2022 defense budget was proposed at 1.45 trillion yuan, raised by 7.1 percent.

At a news conference on Monday, Lou Qinjian, spokesman for the second session of the 14th NPC, said China has maintained a comparatively low military expenditure and the nation always sticks to a peaceful development road.

"In recent years, to better safeguard our sovereignty, security, and development interest, to meet the need of military transformation with Chinese characteristics, and to better perform China's international responsibilities and obligations as a major country, China has maintained reasonable and steady growth of its defense spending, consistent with its sound and steady economic and social development, to promote synchronized growth of defense capability and economic strength," he told reporters.

"I wish to stress that compared with major military powers, such as the United States, China's defense spending is quite low, whether as a percentage of GDP or total budget, or in terms of per citizen or per service member expenditure."

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