The 41st fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy, comprising the missile destroyer Suzhou, the missile frigate Nantong and the supply ship Chaohu, returns to the port city of Zhoushan in East China's Zhejiang province on Nov 15, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
China's planned defense spending for this year will reach 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion), a year-on-year increase of 7.2 percent, according to a draft budget report submitted to the annual session of China's top legislature on Sunday morning.
The draft budget report, which was prepared by the Ministry of Finance, was deliberated on at the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress in Beijing.
If approved by lawmakers, the proposed defense budget will maintain single-digit growth for the eighth consecutive year. At the NPC session last year, a defense budget of 1.45 trillion yuan was proposed, up 7.1 percent year-on-year. The figure for 2021 was 1.35 trillion yuan, up 6.8 percent year-on-year.
The annual Government Work Report, delivered at Sunday's opening meeting of the 14th NPC session, said that China's national defense and military development have made remarkable achievements over the past year, and the military has effectively safeguarded national sovereignty, security and interests.
The work report noted that the military will continue to make all-out efforts to implement Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military and the Party's military strategies in the new era, focus on the goals that the People's Liberation Army needs to accomplish by its centenary in 2027 and fulfill tasks given by the Party and the people.
Speaking at a news conference in Beijing on Saturday, Wang Chao, the spokesman for the first session of the 14th NPC, said that China's defense budget increase is appropriate and reasonable.
"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 is lower than the world average," he said.
A country's defense spending is determined based on the overall consideration of the need for its defense building and economic development levels, which is a common practice across the world, Wang added.
"China's future is closely intertwined with that of the entire world. China's military modernization will not be a threat to any other country. On the contrary, it will only be positive for safeguarding regional stability and world peace," he said.
Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator and retired officer of the PLA, said that China has maintained a moderate increase in its defense expenditure for many years and the nation does not seek to get involved in arms races with other countries.
"Despite the fact that the United States, some European countries and Japan have tremendously hiked their military budgets, China has refrained from sharply raising its own budget though it is fully capable of doing so," Song said. "Our country is not like the US and Japan that keep going after military superiority. That is not what we want. China wants a balance in economic development and defense capabilities."
The world's largest spender on military affairs is the US. Its defense budget for this year was $858 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11.7 percent. A large proportion in the military bill will go to Ukraine and China's Taiwan region to strengthen their armed forces, US media reported.
In Japan, a record defense budget of 6.8 trillion yen ($50 billion) for this year was recently approved by lawmakers, highlighting an astonishing 26 percent annual increase.