Why West Shouldn’t Make Problem Out of China’s Growing Military Spending
14:42 GMT 06.03.2023 (Updated: 12:15 GMT 06.04.2023)
Сhina’s drive to increase its defense budget is strictly in sync with the PRC’s international status of a country struggling for global peace and stability, political analyst Zhou Rong from the Beijing-based People’s University of China told Sputnik.
Beijing will ramp up its military spending
by 7.2% this year, up to 1,553.7 billion yuan ($224.8 billion), according to the draft budget presented at the recent annual session of China’s National People's Congress. The draft budget specifies that China's national defense spending in 2022 amounted to 1,449.963 billion yuan (about $209.9 billion).
The document points to the need to promote the modernization of national defense and armed forces, enhance the state power in the field of defense science and technology, and support the creation of stronger national defense capabilities and a more powerful military.
“Some western countries concerned over China's increasing defense budget should be reminded that the PRC’s military spending is only a quarter of that of the US. China's defense budget amounts to about 1.5% of the GDP, the lowest share among the world's major economies,” Zhou said.
He added that the US and some of its western allies “continue to make a problem out of the growing Chinese defense budget.”
The analyst recalled that those countries themselves significantly increased their military spending on the basis of "providing military aid to Kiev” amid the Ukraine conflict. Since the beginning of the Russian special military operation
in Ukraine, the US has send more than $100 billion worth of military assistance to Kiev, with Moscow repeatedly warning that such actions add to prolonging the Ukraine conflict.
Zhou also recalled that China's two immediate neighbors, Japan and India, also increased their military spending considerably, with their defense budget growth rate currently exceeding that of Beijing.
The analyst touted China as “an important force” to help maintain “global peace and stability”, a mission that Zhou said definitely stipulates the necessity of Beijing strengthening its own defense capabilities.
“An increase in China's military spending is in line with the country’s international status and the level of its global responsibility as a great power. At the same time, China is loath to flex its military muscles with respect to its immediate neighbors and the rest of the world,” Zhou emphasized.
He suggested that in the future, China will “continue to boost its defense budget”, a process that he said would, in particular, depend on external threats and challenges that Beijing mayface, including those related to Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Tensions between China and Taiwan
spiraled last year following a flurry of trips to the island by US and European officials. China, which sees Taiwan as an essential part of the mainland, has criticized the visits as a show of support for Taiwanese separatism and has been conducting daily flybys over the waters off the island.
Separately, Beijing remains embroiled in a protracted dispute with Washington and a number of Asia-Pacific countries on the territorial status of islands in the South China Sea
, where the US often conducts "freedom of navigation" missions.