China: military budget rises in 2023, from +7.1% to +7.2%

China: military budget rises in 2023, from +7.1% to +7.2%

China’s military spending budget for 2023 is estimated to increase by 7.2 percent versus 7.1 percent in 2022, or 1.56 trillion yen versus 1.45 trillion yuan, according to state budget data released on the occasion of the opening of the plenary session of the National People’s Congress, the legislative branch of the Chinese parliament. The figure for 2022 and 2023 is substantially stable when expressed in dollars, around 230 billion, due to the exchange rate effect. The spending trend continues its growth considering that in 2021 military spending had marked a +6.8%. The 7.2% growth in military spending for 2023, in addition to being higher than the GDP estimate (“around 5%”) for the current year, also marked the eighth consecutive year of increases which led China to now permanently have the second largest military budget in the world: the 1,560 billion yuan indicated are about double the figure of 2013. The US Defense, on the other hand, has finalized a 2023 budget of 858 billion dollars, in an 8% increase over 2022, which in per capita terms translates into Washington’s military spending more than 16 times greater than that of Beijing. China should “fully implement Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military and military strategy for the new era.” Premier Li Keqiang, opening the plenary session of the National People’s Congress, said that “our armed forces, with particular attention to the 38 centennial goals of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027, should work to carry out military operations, increase combat readiness and improve military capabilities so as to fulfill the tasks entrusted to them by the CCP and the people.” MILITARY STRENGTH Along with the world’s largest standing army, China boasts the world’s largest navy in terms of naval units and recently launched its third aircraft carrier. According to the United States, it also has the largest air force in the Indo-Pacific, with more than half of its fighter aircraft made up of fourth- or fifth-generation models. To complete the picture of the military structure, Beijing has a huge stockpile of missiles, along with radar-stealth jets and bombers capable of using nuclear weapons, advanced surface ships and nuclear-powered submarines. The People’s Liberation Army has completed a restructuring process that has reduced its workforce to 2 million: it is the military wing of the Communist Party, with President Xi Jinping as commander-in-chief and head of the Commission central military. TAIWAN IS ‘ONE CHINA’ China must implement the Communist Party’s policy “on resolving the Taiwan question, adhering to the ‘One China’ principle and the 1992 Consensus.” Premier Li Keqiang, in his opening speech at the National People’s Congress, said that the country “will adopt resolute measures to oppose the ‘independence of Taiwan’ and promote reunification”. In this regard, he added, “we must promote the peaceful development of relations in the Taiwan Strait and the peaceful development of relations between the parties and advance relations and the process of peaceful reunification of China”. He also urged them to return to greater and more articulated ties. “Because we are Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, we are a blood-related family. We should promote economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation across the Taiwan Strait, and improve systems and policies so that they can contribute to the well-being of our compatriots of Taiwan”. TAIPEI REPLY Taipei “once again calls on China to address the fact that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not affiliated with each other and to respect the Taiwan people’s adherence to freedom and democracy.” This is the response of the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwanese office that deals with relations with Beijing, regarding the statements of Chinese premier Li Keqiang.



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