China announces military spending increase despite low economic growth
China said Sunday its military spending would rise at the fastest pace in four years, warning of "escalating" threats from abroad at a meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament that is set to hand Xi Jinping a third term as president.
The increase in the world's second-largest defence budget came as Beijing announced an economic growth goal of around five percent for this year -- one of its lowest in decades.
The country's planned budgets for the year put defence spending at 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion), a 7.2 percent rise and the quickest rate of increase since 2019. It officially rose 7.1 percent last year.
Outgoing Premier Li Keqiang told delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC) that "external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating".
"The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board," he said as he presented the government's annual work report to thousands of amassed delegates in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
The military must "devote greater energy to training under combat conditions, and... strengthen military work in all directions and domains", he added.
China's defence spending still pales in comparison with the United States, which has allotted over $800 billion for its military this year.
But analysts have said Beijing spends much more money than the officially announced sums.
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