China's Defense Budget Jumps

Premier says the increase will be used to speed up modernization
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2022 3:10 PM CST
China's Defense Budget Jumps
Delegates applaud Saturday as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

China announced Saturday it has decided to increase military spending at the fastest clip since 2019. The 7.1% boost would put the defense budget for this year at $230 billion, CNBC reports. The increase for 2021 was 6.8%, while spending rose 7.5% in 2019. "We will move faster to modernize the military's logistics and asset management systems, and build a modern weaponry and equipment management system," Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement included in a separate document released Saturday. In comparison, the US defense budget for the current fiscal year rose about 2%, to $768.2 billion.

Only the US has a bigger defense budget than China, which boasts the world's largest standing military. The spending increase demonstrates China's determination to strengthen its armed forces despite a slowing economy and high government debt, per the AP. The government says most of the increase will be used to improve the welfare of troops. The defense budget doesn't include all spending on weapons, analysts say, which mostly are produced domestically. Li told the opening of the National People's Congress on Saturday that China will follow President Xi Jinping's "thinking on strengthening the armed forces and the military strategy for the new era."

The top US Air Force commander in the Pacific said Thursday that he's keeping an eye on China's military movements, especially anything that would suggest an attack on Taiwan. "I haven't seen anything so far, but that doesn't mean they haven’t talked about it internally and doesn’t mean that they won’t try something," Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach said. In his speech, Li said his government will "advance peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and the reunification of China" while warning against foreign involvement in the issue. (More China military stories.)

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