China's 7.2 percent increase in military spending moderate, shows country’s strategic confidence
Published: Mar 05, 2023 09:45 PM
Two Y-20 large transport aircraft of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force fly in formation. Photo: Courtesy of Aviation Industry Corporation of China

Two Y-20 large transport aircraft of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force fly in formation. Photo: Courtesy of Aviation Industry Corporation of China 

China announced its annual defense budget for 2023 will increase by 7.2 percent, which is slightly higher than the expected growth rate of around 5 percent of GDP, but it is still considered moderate. This moderation can be reflected in at least three aspects:

Firstly, China's security environment has been deteriorating in recent years, and the global security situation was tense last year due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the increase in China's defense budget for 2023 is only 0.1 percentage point higher than the previous year.

Secondly, the defense budgets of many countries increased significantly last year and this year, and some countries have even approved additional military procurement expenses. The trend of increasing military spending is global. India's military spending increased by 13 percent this year, the US increased by 10 percent compared to the previous year, Germany increased by 17 percent, and Japan's increase was as high as 26.3 percent. Compared to these countries, China's 7.2 percent increase is not high at all.

Thirdly, China's military spending has not exceeded 1.5 percent of its GDP so far, while Japan has announced that it will raise its military spending to 2 percent of its GDP within five years. The US currently spends 3.5 percent of its GDP on defense and has asked all NATO countries to increase their military spending to above 2 percent. India's military spending accounted for 2.2 percent of its GDP last year. Proportion of China's military spending in its GDP is significantly lower than these countries. China has largely kept about 7 percent growth in military spending, which means its share in GDP will be far lower than 2 percent.

China's increase in military spending adheres to its own pace, does not engage in horizontal comparison, and does not engage in an arms race. This reflects China's basic strategic confidence: the country has the ability to safeguard its national security and has already formed the initiative to grasp the military situation. China needs to steadily enhance its military capabilities in the future, coordinate this with the country's accelerated improvement of technological level and the expansion of comprehensive strength, and form a strategic sustainability for a strong military.

China's annual defense budget is still less than a quarter of the US', but it has already surpassed other countries and become the world's second largest military spender. No country in the region has the ability to challenge China militarily alone, and the US military has lost the possibility of winning in a conflict with the PLA in the waters near China. Although China's strategic security situation has worsened, there is no need to panic. China has the capital to plan and coordinate the overall situation according to its own plans and pace.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn