Recently the Apple Daily Online in Hong Kong reported the following:
China’s military spending was expected to exceed 1.4 trillion – increased every year since Xi was in power
The National People's Congress was held today. At the press conference yesterday, when the NPC spokesperson was asked the "must answer question" regarding China's military spending, he again avoided making known China's military budget. China’s military budget has risen rapidly since Xi's inauguration, and it has surpassed RMB 1 trillion in 2017. It is expected that this figure will approach 1.2 trillion yuan (about 1.4 trillion Hong Kong dollars) in 2019.
The press conference was held one day before the opening of the National People's Congress and is an important window for the outside world to observe the NPC. It mainly introduces the agenda of the meeting and related arrangements, and answers questions from reporters. Since China’s military spending had exceeded 1 trillion yuan in 2017; in order to prevent outside fears, no matter whether it is the NPC press conference or the premier Li Keqiang’s government work report, no specific figures on military spending were mentioned. In 2018, the spokesman of the National People's Congress, Zhang Yesui, did not disclose the increase in China's military spending as a practice. This year, in response to a Bloomberg reporter's question about China's defense budget, Zhang still cared about and avoided telling specific figures and increases. Zhang only said that, from a vertical perspective, since 2016, China’s defense spending had decreased from double digits for five consecutive years to a single digit. In horizontal comparison, China’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP in 2000 was about 1.3%, while the proportion of defense spending in some major developed countries accounted for over 2% of GDP. Zhang stressed that China's limited defense spending was solely for the purpose of safeguarding the country's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and would not pose a threat to other countries.
Since taking office in 2012, Xi Jinping has vigorously promoted the "military reform" to increase the system changes. Under the strong military policy, the military expenditures in the first three years have been growing at double-digit levels. After the implementation of a policy of disarmament of 300,000 in 2015, the increase in military spending has dropped to single digit level. However, in recent years, with the PLA gradually strengthening its construction of the navy and air force, together with the deepened disputes along border areas and in sea areas, an increase in military spending is likely to rise again.
The 2018 National Military Ranking on military spending published by the UK Institute for International Strategic Studies shows that the United States is far ahead of the rest of the world with $643 billion (about 5.04 trillion Hong Kong dollars), while China is second in the world with $168.2 billion (about 1.32 trillion Hong Kong dollars), followed by Saudi Arabia, Russia, and India closely behind. The US defense budget for 2019 will reach $716 billion (about 5.62 trillion Hong Kong dollars).
In addition to the external military expenses, the CCP’s internal public security expenditures are also worthy of attention. In 2018, China's peacekeeping costs were nearly 1.26 trillion yuan (about 1.47 trillion Hong Kong dollars), and it is expected to grow again this year. As the issue of Huawei's espionage is rampant, the “National Intelligence Law” passed in 2017 is also mentioned. Article 7 of the Act requires any organization and citizen in China to "support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work according to law." Zhang Yesui said that the law is mainly to safeguard China's national security and interests and would not infringe on the security interests of other countries. He criticized the United States for taking up the "National Intelligence Law" issue to generate stories, rendering the so-called security risks of certain Chinese companies' products, and interfering with economic behaviors by political means.
This year's National People's Congress would be held for a total of 10 days, it starts with an opening meeting in the morning of March 5 to listen to Li Keqiang's report on government work and budget reports. The fourth plenary meeting would be held in the morning of March 15 to vote on the draft resolutions of various work reports and also to vote on the Foreign Investment Law of the People's Republic of China (Draft). After the closing ceremony, Li Keqiang will hold a press conference.
Xinhua News Agency / UK Institute for International Strategy
This article has summarized the present outlook of China in terms of military spending and in internal security maintenance. It shows that although China is already a big spender on homeland security, it still has much to worry in its social stability.