China hikes military budget by 8.1%

China hikes military budget by 8.1%

Beijing will increase the spending by 8.1 percent over a year ago, amounting to a 2018 defense budget of roughly $175 billion, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

On Monday (March 5) premier Li Keqiang kicked off the annual gathering of China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress (NPC), with his government policy report.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed the largest military budget since 2011, focused on beefing up the United States' nuclear defenses and countering the growing strength of China and Russian Federation.

He added that China's aspiration to build world-class armed forces would cover "all aspects of military training and war preparedness", so that "national sovereignty, security and development interests" could be firmly safeguarded.

"Faced with profound changes in the national security environment" the absolute leadership of the military by the ruling Communist Party must be observed, and the unity between the government and the military, and the people and the military, must always be "strong as stone", he said. If approved by the USA congress, the latest U.S. defense budget would become the first significant jump in United States military spending in recent years, when the budget mostly stayed stagnant.

Years of double-digit percentage growth have given China the world's second-largest defence budget after the United States, which is in a class of its own with a proposed budget of $716 billion for next year.

China's defence budget takes up a smaller share of its gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure compared with other major countries, Zhang Yesui, the spokesperson of the NPC told the media here yesterday.

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He also applauded when the Premier vowed to build China into a leader in manufacturing by striving to meet the highest global standards in all products, encourage the spirit of workmanship, and ignite a revolution in the quality of Chinese-made goods. He also said the country will target a growth rate of around 6.5% in 2018 that would lift 10 million people out of poverty.

On the military front, Premier Li said China has reduced the armed forces by 300,000 troops.

"China's annual defense budget continues to follow a similar trend like the previous two years, when growth held steady around 7 percent".

After years of spurring breakneck growth through heavy investment in roads, railways and other infrastructure, China appears to be trying to tread more carefully. Tellingly, Li also omitted last year's aim for growth to be "higher if possible in practice". US carrier in Vietnam For the first time since the Vietnam War, a US Navy aircraft carrier is paying a visit to a Vietnamese port, seeking to bolster both countries' efforts to stem expansionism by China in the South China Sea. "What is unclear, however, is whether the United States will want to rise to that challenge".

"In recent years, China's defense budget growth stopped being double digit".

In his speech in Florida, President Trump also called President Xi "a great gentleman" who was "the most powerful (Chinese) president in a hundred years", and lauded him for treating him "tremendously well" during Mr. Trump's visit in November 2017.

Though President Donald Trump has (jokingly) expressed his approval, experts largely agree that the move could destabilize decades of progress toward democracy and instead move China even further toward authoritarianism.

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