Wednesday April 17th, 2024 8:57AM

China raises defense budget 7.2% as it pushes for global heft and regional tensions continue

By The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday announced a 7.2% increase in its defense budget, which is already the world’s second-highest behind the United States at 1.6 trillion yuan ($222 billion), roughly mirroring the rise of the last year.

Tensions with the U.S., Taiwan, Japan and neighbors who share claims to the crucial South China Sea are seen as furthering growth in increasingly high-tech military technologies from stealth fighters to aircraft carriers and a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The official budget figure announced Tuesday at the opening of the legislature's annual meeting is considered only a fraction of spending by the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party, once spending on research and development and foreign weapons purchases are considered.

“We will provide stronger financial guarantees for efforts to modernize our national defense and the armed forces on all fronts and consolidate and enhance integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities,” Premier Li Qiang told the assembly of nearly 3,000 carefully selected participants who show overwhelming loyalty to the Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

China's defense budget has more than doubled since 2015, even as the country's economic growth rate has slowed considerably. However, the country's ambition to challenge the U.S. and its allies in Asia including Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia over territorial claims, regional leadership and bigger say in world affairs.

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Bodeen reported from Taipei, Taiwan.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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