This apparently is the lowest increment in recent years due to the heavy disruption caused to its economy by the COVID-19 crisis

New Delhi: China has reportedly hiked its defence budget from $177.6 billion last year to $179 billion, which is nearly three times that of India and the lowest increment in recent years, apparently due to the heavy disruption caused to its economy by the COVID-19.

After the US, China is the second-largest spender which has the world’s largest military of two million troops. Moreover, in 2020, China will continue to lower its defence budget growth rate to 6.6%. This is as per a draft budget report which was presented on Friday to the country’s top legislature, National People’s Congress (NPC).

For the fifth consecutive year, the country’s 2020 defence budget continues to witness single-digit growth. State-run media agencies from China reported that this is the lowest growth rate in recent years. In 2019, China’s total defence budget just added up to a quarter that of the United States, while the per capita expenditure was just around one-seventeenth, the budget report said.

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On Thursday, Zhang Yesui, a representative for the NPC, in a media briefing made light of the criticism about the absence of transparency in the country’s defence expenditure which the defense experts state considering the quick extension of Beijing’s military and modern weapons is far higher than what is reported. Zhang also added that there are no hidden military expenditures and that China has been submitting provides its military expenditure reports to the United Nations consistently since 2007.

The military expenditure of China in 2019 as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), added up to $232 billion. As China contrasts its military expenditure with the US, whose budget as per SIPRI was $732 billion, Beijing’s huge defense modernisation drive (which included several aircraft carriers, stealth aircraft, the rapid development of modern naval frigates) is pushing India and different nations to hike their budgets to guarantee sensible power balance.

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India’s budget accounted for $66.9 billion, which is Rs 4,71,378 crore in 2020 (following a write-up in Indian Institute for Defence Analysis). With China’s budget at $179 billion, it amounted to near about 2.7 times more than that of India.

Zhang even states that China’s defense expenditure has been staying at 1.3% of its gross domestic product for many years now. This according to him is well below the world’s average of 2.6%.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power, China has updated its defence forces by cutting the army by 3 lakh troops and improving its maritime and air power as Beijing extended its influence abroad.

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Currently, China has one aircraft carrier with the second one undergoing trials and the third one being built as we speak. The country plans to have five to six aircraft carriers in the coming future via which they can challenge the US all around the world including the South China Sea (SCS) which is Beijing’s backyard, as stated by official media reports.

Moreover, China claims the entirety of the SCS as its domain which Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan counterclaims. China is currently engaged with territorial disputes in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Beijing has developed and militarised a considerable lot of the islands and reefs it controls in the district. The two zones are expressed to be bountiful in minerals, oil, and other natural resources and are additionally crucial to the global trade.

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