China's lowers defence budget growth to 6.6%

<p>China has announced a 2020 defence budget of CNY1.268 trillion (USD178 billion). The government said the figure was a year-on-year increase of 6.6%, the lowest rate of growth recorded for many years.</p><p>The government said the slowdown was linked directly to Covid-19 and the pandemic&rsquo;s devastating impact on the domestic and global economies. </p><p>The new figure also continues a downward trend. &ldquo;The defence budget [in 2020] continues to see single-digit growth for a fifth consecutive year,&rdquo; reported state news agency Xinhua. &ldquo;It is the lowest growth rate in recent years.&rdquo;</p><p>The defence budget was announced at the annual session of the National People&rsquo;s Congress (NPC), which started on 22 May. </p><p>At this event, the government, for the first time, refrained from setting an annual economic target for China. The omission, it said, was a response to Covid-19 and economic uncertainty. In the first quarter of 2020, China&rsquo;s economy contracted by 6.8%.</p><p>Despite the economic constraints, China&rsquo;s Premier Li Keqiang told NPC legislators that the Chinese government was committed to investing in military capability.</p><p>&ldquo;We will deepen reforms in national defence and the military, increase our logistic and equipment support capacity, and promote innovative development of defence-related science and technology,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Li added, &ldquo;We will improve the system of national defence mobilisation and ensure that the unity between the military and the government and between the military and the people remains rock solid.&rdquo;</p><p>The growth in the budget was also regarded as positive by state-owned media. The state-owned
<em>Global Times</em>
newspaper, citing unidentified military analysts, said the defence allocation &ldquo;means that China can provide sufficient funding for military development despite the economic impact brought by the Covid-19 outbreak&rdquo;.
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Source: IHS Jane’s 360
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