Perspective: China’s Defence Budget – The Unknown Knowns

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presented annual report of the government to the opening meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC). This is a standard format based on which deliberations are held during the ensuring fortnight till March 20. All eyes were essentially on two aspects China’s GDP growth and Defence Budget. The GDP growth at 6.5 % was not surprising nor perhaps was increase in defence budget by 8.1 % to 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion). Chinese observers explained GDP slow down to the need to avoid risks and take a balanced approach to economic growth and linked military expenditure to what can be reasonably achieved. Chinese official media stated that though higher than the 7 percent of 2017, the growth in defence budget is much lower than double-digit increases before 2016.  A comparison is also carried out with the increase in the US Defence Expenditure by 10 percent despite the much larger US Defence Budget which Chinese sources claim is four times that of the PLA. There is a need to understand the larger message that the leadership in Beijing wants to convey with statements made by Premier Li as well as other commentators on the defence budget in the Chinese media. Here is a brief perspective-..............

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