China to spend RM700 billion on modernising army

China_Politics

China has announced a trillion yuan military budget for the coming year at the annual National People's Congress.

China will raise its defense budget by 8.1 per cent in 2018, up from last year's 7 per cent.

Meanwhile, the US Defense Department in January said it considers China and Russian Federation the largest threats to its interests, outpacing terrorism for the first time in over a decade.

It also comes amid increased tension with the USA, as Washington beefs up its naval presence in the South China Sea and Beijing has shown an increasing willingness to flex its muscles there, much to the chagrin of many of its maritime neighbors.

While expected, the spending increase will further unnerve China's regional rivals.

Last year, China's economy beat expectations to grow by 6.9%, however, global organizations have warned about financial risks associated with the economy's heavy reliance on debt.

But foreign experts were not all convinced, with Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia in Singapore, saying there was a sustained effort to increase funding for the People's Liberation Army, adding that a good part of the rise will go into efforts to increase China's nuclear forces and the military's force projection capabilities.

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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China will do more in implementing its innovation-driven development strategy, and keep on making the Chinese economy more innovative and competitive, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday.

"In recent years, China has increased the inputs of defence by a modest margin".

The latest cuts are an extension of China's tax reforms since 2013, when the government alleviated more than 3 trillion yuan in taxes and fees on companies, a process Li cited as vital to improve the country's competitiveness and protect entrepreneurship.

All three fleets are growing "leaner and meaner" due to a greater emphasis on technical sophistication, Erickson wrote, adding that the US also anticipates facing a Chinese submarine fleet twice its number, though less technologically advanced. No less impressive is China's missile technology, particularly the DF-21D, which is built to take out an aircraft carrier, and a new air-to-air missile with a range of some 400 kilometres (249 miles) that could attack assets such as early warning aircraft and refuelling tankers crucial to U.S. Air Force operations.

"The fact that a target continues to be set signals to all - including to officials - that rapid growth remains a priority", analysts at research firm Capital Economics said in note to clients.

Diplomatic and US business sources say the United States has all but frozen a formal mechanism for talks on commercial disputes with China because it is not satisfied Beijing has met its promises to ease market restrictions.

Though China doesn't wish to be seen as a Russian ally, there is a renewed sense of big-power competition, Yue said.

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