China will increase defense spending by 7.1% to $ 229 billion

BEIJING – China is increasing its defense spending in 2022 by 7.1% to $ 229 billion compared to an increase of 6.8% a year earlier.

Saturday’s announcement marks the continuation of significant spending that has given China an increasingly powerful army that challenges the dominance of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

China has the second largest defense budget in the world after the United States, allowing it to maintain the largest military base with 3 million troops and an arsenal of modern weapons, including two aircraft carriers with more in transit, stealth fighters, advanced missile forces and nuclear submarines. .

China remains committed to expanding and modernizing its armed forces, despite high levels of public debt and a slowdown in the economy, in part as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government says much of the increase in spending will go to improving the welfare of troops. Observers say the budget is dropping much of China’s arms spending, much of which is being developed domestically.

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The People’s Liberation Army plays a strong political role as a military branch of the ruling Communist Party, controlled by President and Party leader Xi Jinping, who heads government commissions on the armed forces.

The military is largely designed to maintain the threat of using force to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control, although they have also become more persistent in the South China Sea, the western Pacific, the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

In his address to Saturday’s ceremonial legislature of the National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang said that China “fully implements Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the armed forces and military strategy for the new era … and strengthens party building in all and party leadership.” aspects of the military ”.

Lee noted no change in China’s approach to Taiwan, which he threatens to annex by force if necessary.

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China will “promote the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and the reunification of China,” Li said. “We strongly oppose any separatist activities that seek Taiwan’s independence, and we strongly oppose foreign interference.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has suggested that China may be more inclined to use force against Taiwan if it feels the lack of a solution from the United States and its allies.

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