China's 2023 defense budget to rise by 7.2%, remaining single-digit for 8th year
China's annual defense budget will remain single-digit growth for the eighth year in a row, with an increase of 7.2 percent in 2023, according to a draft budget on Sunday.
The world's second-largest economy's planned defense spending will be 1.5537 trillion yuan (US$224.79 billion) this year, read the report on the draft central and local budgets submitted to the ongoing session of China's national legislature.
The figure for last year was 7.1 percent.
China's military spending has long been at the center of Western scrutiny, and so-called "China threat" has been hyped up almost every year.
Describing China's defense budget increase as "appropriate and reasonable," Wang Chao, spokesperson for the first session of the 14th National People's Congress, told reporters Saturday that the growth is needed for meeting complex security challenges and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country.
China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. It has stressed on multiple occasions that no matter how much defense expenditure is invested or how modernized its armed forces are China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence.
This is in stark contrast to the United States, which currently has about 800 overseas military bases, with 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries.
In recent years, the US average annual military budget has accounted for over 40 percent of the world's total, more than the 15 countries behind it combined.
China's defense budget is about one-quarter of that of the United States, which amounted to some 858 billion US dollars in 2023.
In per-capita terms, China's defense spending is only one-sixteenth of that of the United States.
Noting that defense spending is determined based on the overall consideration of the need for defense building and the economic development level of a country, Wang said China's defense spending as a share of GDP, which is lower than the world average, has been kept basically stable for many years.
"China's future is closely intertwined with that of the entire world. China's military modernization will not be a threat to any country. On the contrary, it will only be a positive force for safeguarding regional stability and world peace," he said.
China is a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, sending more than 50,000 personnel on peacekeeping missions over the last three decades.