Procurement of advanced warplanes such as the J-20 stealth jet and multi-role J-16 besides commissioning of the third aircraft carrier ‘Fujian’ and increased welfare of its troops will be focus of a 1.5537 trillion yuan ($224.79 billion) draft budget for 2023 announced at the National People's Congress (NPC) Sunday.
Beijing’s budget for 2022 was slightly higher and the number stood at $229 billion, as per figures quoted by local media.
Chinese state-owned media reported that national defense modernization has become particularly highlighted “due to the deteriorating global security situation over the past year, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict,and the provocative visit of then U.S. house speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island of Taiwan.”
Chinese military is also expected to hold more realistic combat-oriented drills that consume large amounts of costly live munitions and fuel.
The U.S. tops the list of military spenders with $817 billion budget for the Pentagon, more than three times than that of China. Japan planned $51 billion defense budget, which is 26.3% higher than previous year. India is expected to raise defense budget by 13%. Other countries like the UK, France, Germany and Australia are also looking to boost defense spending.
But China is not participating in an arms race with other countries, Chinese observers told state media.
“China's defense spending as a share of GDP has remained basically stable for many years, and it is lower than the world average and the increase is appropriate and reasonable,” Wang Chao, spokesperson for the first session of the 14th NPC, made the remarks at a press conference on Saturday.
Observers said that China's defense budget has been kept less than 1.5%over the recent years, while the world average is 2%.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that “China is fully capable of increasing this figure to 2%, but it chose not to significantly hike defense spending and acted in a restrained manner, showing that China's national defense development is proper and reasonable, and the country will not engage in an arms race with anyone on a path of peaceful development.” He claimed that China follows a national defense strategy that is defensive in nature.