Covid-19: China’s defence spending grows at slowest pace since at least 1991
The military spending figure is closely watched by US and regional policymakers as it represents one of the few pieces of official data available to gauge the development of the People’s Liberation Army.Updated: May 22, 2020 08:49 IST
China projected defense spending growth of 6.6% this year, the slowest increase since at least 1991, in a sign of the trade-offs China’s leaders face in confronting unprecedented economic slowdown in the wake of the coronavirus.
The Chinese Ministry of Finance said on Friday that defence spending would increase to 1.268 trillion yuan ($178 billion) in the coming year. The figure, which was released at the start of the annual National People’s Congress session in Beijing, compares with a 7.5% increase last year.
“China seems to have come out of the pandemic rather quickly and with far smaller consequences than others, but its economy will definitely take a hit,” said Nan Tian, a researcher in the Arms at Military Expenditure Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. “Some form of scaling back is inevitable.”
The military spending figure is closely watched by US and regional policymakers as it represents one of the few pieces of official data available to gauge the development of the People’s Liberation Army. China was the second-largest military spender in the world in 2019, accounting for 14% of global military spending compared with 38% for the US, according to SIPRI.