China hikes defence spending by 6.6%, lowest rate in years
May 22, 2020 - China’s 2020 defence spending will rise 6.6 percent to 1.3 trillion yuan ($180 billion), the lowest growth rate in years as it battles an economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
The figure is down from the double-digit percentage increases of just a few years ago that have given China the second biggest defence budget in the world behind the United States.
The People’s Liberation Army, the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, is the world’s largest standing military and in recent years has added aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and stealth fighters to its arsenal, most of them produced domestically.
China says the increases in spending mostly go toward improving conditions for troops, while foreign analysts say actual spending could be much higher because many items are not included in the official budget.
Defence outlays rose by 7.5 percent last year to 1.2 trillion yuan ($178 billion), while independent experts estimated real spending on the military exceeded $220 billion when off-budget expenses were added in.
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