Under Xi, China’s defense budget seen defying economic slowdown

(Reuters) – President Xi Jinping is expected to authorize robust defense spending for this year despite China’s slowing economy, determined to strengthen the country’s armed capabilities amid growing unease in Beijing at Washington’s renewed focus on Asia.

While China keeps the details of its military spending secret, experts said additional funding would likely go toward beefing up the navy with anti-submarine ships and developing more aircraft carriers beyond the sole vessel in operation.

The military budget will be announced at the start of the annual meeting of China’s parliament on March 5. Last year, defense spending rose 12.2 percent to $130 billion, second only to the United States.

That continued a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit budget increases, although many experts think China’s real defense outlays are much larger.

“Xi has put a premium on the ‘dream of a strong military’ as part of his grand strategy for China’s rise, perhaps more than any other modern (Chinese) leader,” said Zhang Baohui, a security specialist at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University.

“This greater emphasis on the military is very significant.”

Full article: Under Xi, China’s defense budget seen defying economic slowdown (Reuters)

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