Chinese govt proposes 7.2% rise in defense budget to $225b

In this June 1, 2020 photo, soldiers of the "Hard-boned Sixth Company" of the 74th Army Group of the People's Liberation Army take part in a battle drill in a coastal area of Guangdong province. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BEIJING – The Chinese government has proposed an annual defense budget of 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion) for the 2023 fiscal year, a 7.2-percent year-on-year increase, according to a draft budget report submitted to the national legislature on Sunday morning.

The figures were included in the report prepared by the Ministry of Finance and distributed at the opening meeting of the first 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 an eighth consecutive year.

At the NPC session last year, the Chinese government proposed a defense budget of 1.45 trillion yuan for the 2022 fiscal year, a 7.1-percent year-on-year increase. The 2021 defense budget was proposed at 1.35 trillion yuan.

READ MORE: 'China defense spending as share of GDP stable for years'

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing on Saturday, Wang Chao, the spokesperson for the first session of the 14th NPC, said that defense spending is determined based on overall consideration of the need for defense ability and the economic development level, which is a common practice across the world.

China's military modernization will not be a threat to any country. On the contrary, it will only be positive for safeguarding regional stability and world peace.

Government work report

"The increase in defense spending is needed for meeting the complex security challenges and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country. China‘s defense spending, as a share of GDP, has stayed basically stable for many years and it is lower than the world average. An increase is appropriate and reasonable," the spokesman said when answering a question on China's defense budget.

"China's future is closely intertwined with that of the entire world. China's military modernization will not be a threat to any country. On the contrary, it will only be positive for safeguarding regional stability and world peace."

The world's largest spender on military affairs is the United States. Its defense budget for the fiscal year 2023 was $858 billion, an 11.7-percent year-on-year hike. A large proportion in the military bill will go to Ukraine and China's Taiwan to strengthen their armed forces, US media reported.

Sovereignty, security, development interests

Over the past five years, a series of major achievements were made in national defense and military development, said a government work report submitted on Sunday to the national legislature for deliberation.

The people's armed forces carried out operations in a firm and flexible way; and they effectively conducted major missions relating to border defense, maritime rights protection, counterterrorism and stability maintenance, disaster rescue and relief, COVID-19 response, peacekeeping, and merchant ship escorting.

ALSO READ: China targets economic growth of around 5% in 2023

"Our national defense mobilization capability was boosted," said the government work report. "With these efforts, we fully safeguarded China's sovereignty, security, and development interests."

An information operations combat group formation marches to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing on Oct 1, 2019. (PHOTO / IC)

Enhancing military capabilities 

China's armed forces, with a focus on the goals for the centenary of the People's Liberation Army in 2027, should work to carry out military operations, boost combat preparedness and enhance military capabilities so as to accomplish the tasks entrusted to them by the Party and the people, said the government work report.

READ MORE: Proposed spending on defense belies cries of alarm

The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board, develop new military strategic guidance, devote greater energy to training under combat conditions, and make well-coordinated efforts to strengthen military work in all directions and domains, the report said.