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China raises defence budget to USD225 billion

Janes Defence Budgets (JDB) estimates China's total defence expenditure for 2023 to be the equivalent of about USD269 billion. JDB figures include soldiers' pensions and a portion of national R&D expenditure. (Janes Defence Budgets)

China has announced a 2023 defence budget of CNY1.554 trillion (USD225 billion). The new budget represents a nominal year-on-year increase of 7.2%, the fastest rate of growth for four years.

The expenditure was announced at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on 5 March. The government said the new budget is the eighth successive single-digit increase in a row.

It is also the biggest increase since 2019, when the budget climbed 7.5%. Increases in 2020, 2021, and 2022 were recorded at 6.6%, 6.8%, and 7.1%, respectively. The official defence budget in 2022 was CNY1.45 trillion.

NPC spokesperson Wang Chao said the defence budget increase was “appropriate and reasonable”, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. “The increase in defence spending is needed for meeting the complex security challenges, and for China to fulfil its responsibilities as a major country,” he added.

Xinhua also reported that the increased expenditure will help “provide Chinese forces with better training and more advanced equipment. It also supports the military in tackling non-conventional security threats such as major epidemics and natural disasters”.

The Chinese government publicly releases few details about its defence spending. However, in recent years, government officials have said budgetary increases are closely aligned with the country's mid-term military goals.

These include stated targets to achieve ‘military development' by 2027 – the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) – and ‘military modernisation' by 2035.

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