China hikes defence budget to $179 bn

China hikes defence budget to $179 bn
In this file photo, Chinese tank crew members stand at attention during a parade.
Beijing, May 22 | Publish Date: 5/22/2020 1:17:25 PM IST

China, the second-largest military spender after the US, has hiked its defence budget from last year’s 177.6 billion to USD 179 billion, nearly three times that of India, according to the official media.

China will continue to lower its defence budget growth rate to 6.6 per cent in 2020, according to a draft budget report presented on Friday to National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature.

The 2020 defence budget continues to see single-digit growth for a fifth consecutive year. It is the lowest growth rate in recent years, Xinhua news agency reported.

China’s this year’s defence budget will be around 1.27 trillion yuan (about USD 179 billion) against last year’s 177.61 billion, according to the draft submitted to the NPC.

China’s total defence spending in 2019 only amounted to a quarter that of the United States, the world’s largest defence spender, while the per capita expenditure was just about one-seventeenth, the report said.

Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the NPC in a media briefing played down criticism about lack of transparency in China’s defence expenditure which defence analysts say considering the rapid expansion of Beijing’s military and modern weapons is far higher than what is announced. Zhang said China had no “hidden military spending”.

China has been submitting reports on its military expenditures to the United Nations every year since 2007, he said. “From where the money comes from to how the money is used, everything is accounted for,” Zhang said.

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the military expenditure figures of China’s defence spending in 2019 amounted to USD 232 billion.

While China compares its defence expenditure with the US, whose defence budget according to SIPRI was USD 732 billion, Beijing’s massive defence modernisation drive is pushing India and a number of other countries to hike their own defence budgets to ensure balance of power.

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