China Increases its Defense Budget for 2018 by 8.1 percent
On Monday March 5, China proclaimed its plan to increase the military budget by 8.1 percent from 2017.
It will be China’s largest military budget expansion over the last three years, making its defense budget in 2018 amount to $175 billion, according to a budget document publicized before the opening of China's 13th National People's Congress in Beijing.
In a keynote address to the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the country faced profound changes in the national security environment that entails a stronger military.
China will "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests," said Premier Li Keqiang.
Andrew Erickson, a professor at the Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, said this move revealed Chinese political leaders’ ambition to promote military modernization.
“This shows that Xi’s grand strategy to ‘make China great again’ includes not only a ‘China dream’ generally but also a ‘strong military dream’ specifically,” he said.
Although the remarkable increase in the military budget has given rise to concerns among other states especially in Asia, China insists that its military spending is transparent and does not pose a threat to other actors.
In an editorial, the official newspaper China Daily said China’s move had prompted "finger-pointing from the usual suspects." It defends China’s increase in the military expenditure by arguing that it accounts for just one-fourth of the military spending of the US, and it lags behind other major countries in per capita terms.
According to Reuters, the U.S. Defense Department did not respond to China’s increased military spending immediately.
However, a State Department official said that the US government will continue to carefully monitor China’s military developments and encourage China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its capabilities and intentions.