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China Announces Largest Defence Spending Budget Of 3 Years, Sets 8.1 % Growth Target

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 1
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| March 5 , 2018 , 12:38 IST

China which boasts on the second largest defence budget in the world, on Monday unveiled its largest rise in defence spending in 3 years, with an 8.1 percent growth target compared to 2017, to provide for the nation's ambitious military modernisation programme amid rising security concerns.

According to a report issued at the opening of China's annual parliament meeting, the 2018 defence budget is 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion).

China will "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests", Premier Li Keqiang said addressing the parliament's opening session.

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The defence spending of China is closely watched across the world for hints at China's strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, which include stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.

Since China does not publically release details on its defence acquisitions and spending, the Defence Budget gives an approximation of its expansion plans, although sources say that China also disguises some of its defence spending as civil expenditure.

The 2018 defence allocation comes as China's economic growth expanded 6.9 percent last year, in the first acceleration in annual growth since 2010.

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Sam Roggeveen, Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University in Canberra viewed the increase in Defence Budget as an indication of China's intentions to expand in the contested South China Sea.  

"There is every indication that China wants to expand what it will call defence capabilities in the South China Sea. I expect eventually we will see warships and aircraft there regularly, if not based there permanently. What is unclear, however, is whether the United States will want to rise to that challenge," Roggeveen was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Meanwhile, India's defence budget as per the Budget 2018 has been hiked by 7.81 percent to Rs 2.74 lakh crore, around 1.58 percent of the projected GDP for 2018-19, the lowest figure since the 1962 war with China.