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China increases 2024 defence budget by 7.2%

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts that real annual growth rates in China's total military expenditure, which includes the official defence budget, will fall below 4% before the end of the decade. (Janes)

The Chinese government has proposed a defence budget of CNY1.67 trillion (USD232 billion) for 2024, official state media has reported. The new expenditure represents a nominal year-on-year increase of 7.2%, the same rate of growth announced in 2023.

The new defence budget was submitted to the national legislature on 5 March and distributed to lawmakers at the opening of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

State media said the proposed expenditure, if approved, would maintain single-digit growth in China's defence budget for the ninth consecutive year since 2016. China's official defence budget in 2023 was CNY1.55 trillion and in 2022 it was CNY1.45 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 7.1%. In 2021 the budget announced by Beijing was CNY1.35 trillion, an increase of 6.8%.

A spokesperson for the second session of the 14th NPC was quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying on 4 March that China's defence budget was “comparatively low” and was aimed at achieving a “military transformation with Chinese characteristics”.

The spokesperson added, “China has maintained reasonable and steady growth of its defence spending, consistent with its sound and steady economic and social development, to promote synchronised growth of defence capability and economic strength.

“I wish to stress that compared with major military powers, such as the United States, China's defence spending is quite low, whether as a percentage of GDP or total budget, or in terms of per citizen or per service member expenditure.”

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