China will increase its military budget by more than 7% this year while warning of “escalating” threats, announced the National People’s Congress (NPC).
Beijing’s military budget – around $225 billion – is four times lesser than the global hegemon: the United States.
Outgoing Premier Li Keqiang told the NPC that “external attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating”.
“The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board,” he said.
It was also announced at the meeting that China would pursue a reduced economic growth target of about 5% this year.
The Two Sessions, as the meetings are known, are an annual affair.
But this year’s sessions are particularly significant as delegates are expected to reshape several key Communist Party and state institutions.
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This week’s NPC meeting will also formalise President Xi Jinping’s leadership of the country, as he will be elected president of China and head of the armed forces.
He secured his position in the echelons of Chinese power in October last year when the Communist Party re-elected him as their leader for a third term.
The increase in military spending comes as President Xi is navigating worsening ties with the US over the Ukraine war and the recent balloon saga, even as he warms his embrace of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.