China Boosts Spending to Bolster Military Capabilities

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China unveiled its largest rise in defense spending in three years on Monday, setting an 8.1 percent growth target compared to 2017, fuelling the country's ambitious military modernization program amid rising Chinese security concerns, Reuters reported.

According to a budget report to be submitted to national legislature on Monday, defense budget will be 1.11 trillion yuan.

The report presented by Li said that the government had to take effective measures aimed at supporting the military reform.

"This shows that Xi's grand strategy to "Make China Great Again" includes not only a "China dream" generally but also a "strong military dream" specifically", he said.

"Due to cooperation between all interested parties, we completed the task of reducing the army by 300,000 people", Li added.

China has announced a military budget of 1.11 trillion yuan ($175bn; £126bn) for the coming year.

At the same time, Beijing has imposed increasingly assertive claims to vast expanses of the contested South China Sea, while engaging in confrontations with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea and with India over Himalayan border regions.

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Erickson said China has the world's second largest defense budget after the United States, enabling it to achieve the largest and fastest shipbuilding expansion in modern history, the world's largest navy, coast guard and maritime militia by number of ships, and the world's largest conventional ballistic and cruise missile force.

Years of double-digit percentage growth have given China the world's second-largest defense budget after the United States, which is in a class of its own with a proposed budget of $716 billion for next year.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed the largest military budget since 2011, focused on beefing up the United States' nuclear defences and countering the growing strength of China and Russian Federation.

The proposal, part of Trump's budget request for the US government, would provide the Pentagon $617 billion and an additional $69 billion to fund ongoing wars in fiscal year 2019.

One senior Asia diplomat said before the announcement that the real rise would probably be at least double what China revealed, considering its efforts to build up the industrial military complex and deepen military-civilian integration. That is $74 billion more than in the budget for the previous fiscal year.

In an article on its website, China's Defence Ministry cited Chen Zhou, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, as saying the spending increase was "reasonable" and "sustainable" and that there were no "hidden military funds".

China's defense spending as a share of GDP and the budget also remains lower than that of other major nations, he said.