China on Wednesday announced a defence budget for 2014 that, at around $132 billion or 808.23 billion Yuan, is nearly $100 billion more that of India’s $36 billion.
It’s sure to rattle the planners and pundits behind India’s armed forces’ budget and future military strategy that’s grappling with a crippling cash crunch and several stalled defence deals.
China does not appear to have any such problems with Premier Li Keqiang announcing the 12.2% hike in the defence budget. It was more than last year’s 10.7% increase in the defence outlay.
The budget for the military was expected to rise with China now focusing on strengthening its naval power to ensure its superiority in South and East China seas and also gradually make its presence felt in waters much beyond.
It has a new Soviet-era aircraft carrier, Liaoning, in its fleet and is known to be building at least one more.
State media said successfully operating the 60,000-tonne Liaoning was the first step before the deployment of locally built carriers by 2020. A stealth test fighter is also in the making. Not only defence, the government increased the budget for internal security by 6.1% to more than 205 billion Yuan.
Li predicted a healthy 7.5% GDP growth this year in his work report presented to the nearly 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s Parliament, at the inaugural session at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday.
The target is the same as last year’s and slightly lower than the 7.7% actual growth in 2013.
For 2014, the aim is to add 10 million jobs, Li told the deputies to seemingly choreographed applause and the incessant drone of cameras focused on the neat row of top Communist Party of China’s leaders seating on the stage with Party general secretary and President Xi Jinping in the middle.
India in Li’s speech
China, it seems, is quite keen to revive old Silk Route trade connections though along a different routes.
In an apparent effort to reach out to some of its neighhbours with a land border, including India, Li said China will focus on building a land trade route with countries near its southern border.