According to CNN, Red China has again increased its annual military budget by around 10% even as its economy slows. The budget now totals $US144.2 billion.
Premier Li Keqiang told the National People’s Congress held in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square “Building a solid national defense and strong armed forces is fundamental to safeguarding China’s sovereignty.”
The increased spending comes amid unease among China’s neighbors about the pursuit of its territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
Paul Burton, Asia Pacific director at IHS Aerospace, Defence & Security, estimates that actual spending is 35% higher than the announced budget.
“China’s expanding strategic reach and extensive modernization requirements will continue to require significant investment over the next decade,” Burton said.
Alexander Neill, a senior fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore says China is likely to prioritize spending on its naval power “A growing chunk of budget is going toward China’s navy, particularly its submarine force and its seaborne nuclear deterrent,” he said.
China is busy expanding its economic and political influence in the Pacific too, investing heavily in development projects and land and assets purchase throughout island regions and in NZ and Australia.