China raises defence Budget by 10.1%, the slowest growth in military spending in 5 years

Chinese People's Liberation Army tanks move down Changan Ave. during a military parade in Beijing, China. Amid a slowing economy, China has raised its defence budget by 10.1 per cent to 887 billion yuan (S$193.4 billion) this year, keeping its nearly
Chinese People's Liberation Army tanks move down Changan Ave. during a military parade in Beijing, China. Amid a slowing economy, China has raised its defence budget by 10.1 per cent to 887 billion yuan (S$193.4 billion) this year, keeping its nearly two-decade run of double-digit increases in military spending unbroken. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Amid a slowing economy, China has raised its defence budget by 10.1 per cent to 887 billion yuan (S$193.4 billion) this year, keeping its nearly two-decade run of double-digit increases in military spending unbroken.

The figure, released at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) - China's legislative body - on Thursday, however, is lower than the 12.2 per cent increase last year. It represents the slowest growth in military spending in five years.

Still, experts point out that the country's defence spending is growing at a pace faster than the overall growth rate of the Chinese economy, making China's Budget second only to the United States.

Earlier on Wednesday, NPC spokesman Fu Ying had revealed at a press conference that the defence Budget would rise by "about 10 per cent".

She sought to allay concerns over China's growing defence budget and military might, emphasising that the country's defence policy had always been defensive in nature.

Still, the latest figure is likely to jangle nerves amid simmering tensions with neighbours such as Japan and the Philippines over competing territorial claims remain at risk of boiling over into armed conflict.

Experts say the slower pace of growth in defence spending could be linked to an anti-graft campaign that has been gathering pace within the military as President Xi Jinping seeks to modernise the military and also root out rampant corruption within its ranks.

esthert@sph.com.sg