Chinese defense budget 2023 to rise by 7.2 percent to reach USD 224.79 billion
March 06, 2023
China on Sunday, March 5, announced a draft budget for 2023 which will see the country's annual defense budget rise to 1.5537 trillion yuan ($224.79 billion), an increase of 7.2 percent, remaining single-digit for the 8th consecutive year. Liu Xuanzun reports in Global Times.
The proposed defense budget growth was made public in a draft budget report issued at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, on Sunday, March 5. It marks that China maintains a single-digit growth in the defense budget for the eighth consecutive year since 2016, and a steadily increasing pace since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020. The growth rate was 6.6 percent in 2020, 6.8 percent in 2021 and 7.1 percent in 2022, Liu Xuanzun writes.
A 7.2 percent increase in the defense budget means only a 0.1 percentage point higher compared with 2022, and it is not high at all taking China's national defense needs and economic development into account, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday. China's GDP growth rate in 2022 was 3 percent, so the defense budget growth is set to be restrained and reasonable, Song said.
China has set its GDP growth target at about 5 percent for 2023, which is significantly higher than the GDP growth rate of 3 percent in 2022, reflecting confidence in a nationwide economic recovery after claiming a decisive victory against the COVID-19 epidemic, and providing a basis for the defense budget increase, analysts said.
China is aiming to achieve the centenary goals of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) by 2027, basically realize the modernization of national defense and the armed forces by 2035, and fully build the armed forces into world-class forces by the mid-21st century, the Xinhua News Agency reported on August 1, 2022, which marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the PLA. To meet this roadmap, China needs to gradually increase its defense expenditure over many years as in tandem with the country's economic growth, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity.
National defense modernization consists of mainly the development and procurement of new weapons and equipment, the maintaining of a high level of realistic combat-oriented exercises of the troops, as well as the improved welfare to military personnel. So, in 2023, the PLA is expected to commission more advanced warplanes including J-20 stealth fighter jets and J-16 multirole fighter jets at a time when legacy J-7 fighter jets are being decommissioned and conducting sea trials for the country's third aircraft carrier, the electromagnetic catapults-equipped Fujian. It is also expected to hold more realistic combat-oriented drills that consume large amounts of costly live munitions and fuels, according to observers echoed by Liu Xuanzun in Global Times.