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China Announces 7.5% Increase in Defense Budget for 2019

BEIJING – China has announced the hike of its defense budget by 7.5% to take it to $177.61 billion. The second largest military spender of the world declared its decision for the year 2019. It is three times that of India’s defense budget. A draft budget report will be submitted on Tuesday at the opening of the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC). This simply indicates that China is investing to speed up its efforts to raise military power.

China used to increase its defense budget in double-digit till 2015 but after that, it shifted to a single digit hike. The hikes in the last three years namely, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were 7.6%, 7%, and 8.1% respectively. After this year’s spending, China’s defense spending has reached closer to $200 billion mark, which comes at second place to the United States.

Over the last few years, China has chosen to invest majorly in its defense department and there are key reforms in the Chinese defense policy that one can notice. Among the major reforms, China has expanded its Navy and Air force to enhance its influence abroad. Also, there is a cutting down of three lakh troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Despite the cut-down, the Chinese Army has a strength of 2 million personnel in its ranks. If we take into consideration India’s defense budget hike, then it is just 6.87 percent which takes¬†the value to Rs. 3.18 lakh crores from the previous year allocation of Rs. 2.98 lakh crores.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping has always given more importance to turn PLA into a “World Class” military by mid-century. This hike also signifies Beijing’s efforts to assert its vast territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea. The Chinese side has been defending its efforts to increase its defense budget and calling it less in comparison to the other major developing countries’ military expenditure.

“Whether a country is a military threat to others or not is not determined by its increase in defense expenditure, but by the foreign and national defense policies it adopts, “NPC spokesperson Zhang Yesui said.

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