The hike is only a slight raise from the 6.6% increase announced in 2020 amid the pandemic, which was the lowest increase in many years.
China’s defence budget will for the first time cross $200 billion with the government on March 5 announcing a 6.8% hike in defence spending for 2021.
The announcement was made at the start of the week-long session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the Communist Party-controlled legislature, in Beijing.
The hike is only a slight raise from the 6.6% increase announced in 2020 amid the pandemic, which was the lowest increase in many years. The defence budget saw double-digit increases until 2015, and was pegged at 7.5% in 2019.
The budget in 2021 was announced as 1.35 trillion Yuan ($209 billion), up from 1.27 trillion Yuan ($179 billion) last year.
More than India’s defence budget
This will take China’s defence spending to more than four times India’s $49.75 billion budget, not including pensions. India’s budget last month announced a modest 1.48% hike in total defence spending, to ₹4.78 lakh crore ($65.7 billion) including defence pensions, or ₹3.62 lakh crore ($49.75 billion) minus pensions. India also announced a record 18.5% increase in capital outlay to ₹1.35 lakh crore ($18.4 billion).
Unlike in India, spending on pensions in China is also shared by the Ministry of Civil Affairs as well as provincial (state) governments, although part of the budget’s personnel allocation is also for pensions. China also spends far less than India on import acquisitions, and its outlay on capital is harder to ascertain considering the defence budget does not close to fully account the military spends by China’s vast military industries, which are also mostly state-controlled.
China’s defence spending has in recent years evolved to reflect its on-going modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with a shift away from the traditionally dominant army and a greater share for the PLA Navy, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force, which includes cyber warfare.
China in 2019 unveiled its first home-grown aircraft carrier, while two more are in construction. Its third carrier — and second home-grown one — is expected to launch this year. China in 2019 also unveiled its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-41, with an estimated 14,000-km range, capable of reaching the U.S.