China has announced plans to increase its defense budget by 7.2% in 2023, as Premier Li Keqiang warned of growing “external” threats to the country’s rise. The announcement was made during the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC).
According to a report by China’s finance ministry, the government will set aside 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion) for defense spending this year, which is above this year’s GDP growth target of 5%. This marks a slight increase from last year’s 7.1% increase in defense spending.
China’s military budget is the second largest in the world after the United States, but many overseas analysts believe that China may actually be spending more than the official figure. Nevertheless, China’s defense budget is still significantly less than that of the United States, which has allocated more than $800 billion for the military this year.
In recent years, China has spent billions of dollars to modernize its defenses, with the aim of turning its military into a world-class force on par with the United States and other Western powers. However, military tensions between China and the United States have soared in recent years, particularly in the case of Taiwan.
In his government work report, Premier Li Keqiang warned that “external efforts to crack down and control China are escalating,” stressing that the army needs military training and readiness to concentrate on combat conditions and strengthen military work in all directions.
Premier Li Keqiang reiterated China’s long-held position against “separatism” in Taiwan and emphasized that the country does not want Taiwan to declare independence. He called for further development of China-Taiwan relations and peaceful reunification as one China.
With China’s increasing defense spending and rising tensions with the United States, the world will be closely watching how these developments unfold in the coming years.