NPC session to publish draft defense budget; figure maintains reasonable, steady growths in recent years: spokesperson
Published: Mar 04, 2024 04:31 PM
China's Defense Budget 2019-2023. Graphic:Global Times

China's Defense Budget 2019-2023. Graphic:Global Times

The second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) will review the draft defense budget for 2024 and publish the figure, which has maintained reasonable, steady growth over recent years consistent with China's economic and social development to better safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, a spokesperson said on Monday.

Lou Qinjian, spokesperson for the second session of the 14th NPC, made the remarks at a press conference, a day ahead of the opening of the event on Tuesday, when asked about China's defense budget amid tensions in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

According to the laws on national defense and on budget as well as other laws and regulations, the national defense budget is a part of the overall budget included in the draft government budget, which is to be reviewed and approved by the NPC and managed and utilized in accordance with the law, Lou said.

According to the NPC session agenda, it will review the draft budget which will be published afterwards, Lou said.

In recent years, to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, to meet the needs of military transformation with Chinese characteristics, and to better fulfill China's international responsibilities and obligations as a major country, China has maintained reasonable and steady growth of its defense spending consistent with its constant and healthy economic and social development, in a move to promote synchronized growth of defense capability and economic strength, the spokesperson added.

China's defense budget for 2023 was set at 1.5537 trillion yuan ($224.79 billion), an increase of 7.2 percent compared with the figure of 2022. The country has maintained single-digit growth in its annual defense budget for eight consecutive years since 2016.

Lou stressed that compared with major military powers such as the US, China's defense spending is quite low, whether as a percentage of GDP or in terms of per capita and per-serviceperson.

China is committed to a path of peaceful development, stands ready to share development opportunities with other countries and foster a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make new contributions to the noble cause of peace and development, Lou said.

Multiple Chinese military experts contacted by the Global Times over the past week said that it is likely that China sets a moderate, restrained growth for its defense budget in 2024.

They cited needs in military modernization, the challenging security environment, and the recovering economic situation among reasons for the potential growth, noting that a strong Chinese military is a stabilizing factor that contributes to global and regional peace and stability.