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China's defence budget rattles neighbours

09 March 2018

On Monday, China unveiled its largest rise in defence spending in three years on Monday, setting an 8.1 percent growth target compared to 2017, fuelling the country's ambitious military modernisation programme amid rising Chinese security concerns.

Li made the statement while delivering a government work report at the opening meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, reports Chinese news portal China News.

Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which runs the armed forces and Xi heads, told military delegates to parliament that China needed to "fully strengthen troop training and war preparedness and raise the ability to win", state news agency Xinhua said late on Monday.

"Faced with profound changes in the national security environment" the absolute leadership of the military by the ruling Communist Party must be observed, and the unity between the government and the military, and the people and the military, must always be "strong as stone", he said. Official Chinese defence spending is about one-quarter that of the United States, though many foreign analysts and diplomats say China under-reports the figure.

At the same time, he pledged tax cuts of 800 billion yuan for companies and individuals and set a 6.5% annual economic growth target - the same as last year's target but slower than the actual performance of 6.9%.

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Professor Steve Tsang of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London called it "unnecessary and unwise". Xi is nearing the end of his first term as president. "You know? Great intelligence agency there".

The system makes a great contribution to the political civilisation of mankind, since it's not only suitable for China's reality but also accords with nation's excellent traditional culture of selflessness and inclusiveness, Mr Xi said.

During a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo, Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift called on Beijing to explain its military spending, which he said causes anxiety in the region.

He said one of China's goals is that "unity between the government and the military, and the people and the military, must always be strong as stone", which is a fairly blunt statement of militaristic nationalism.

Reform and opening up was "a game-changing move in making China what it is today", and "it now remains a game-changing move for us to achieve China's two centenary goals", said the premier.

The economic planning agency also said on Monday it expects retail sales to increase by around 10% in 2018, the same as previous year.

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This year's defence budget for China would be at a whopping 175 billion dollars. "What is unclear, however, is whether the United States will want to rise to that challenge".

Ding, the Taiwan scholar, pointed out that China's defense budget each year continued to take a relatively low share of its annual GDP.

"The projected growth rate reflects China's position of not over-emphasizing speed but stressing improvements in the quality and effect of development, according to another report from the country's top economic planner".

Rivals such as the United States, Japan, and India should be less anxious at the moderate rate of budget growth, although they "won't feel happy" to see rapid enhancements in China's air, naval, missile and antisatellite capabilities, said Ni, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. Any implications of a president for life or emperor-like status are taboo in the Chinese media in order to prevent any resistance to the move from growing.

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China's defence budget rattles neighbours