Xi Jinping calls for further modernization of China's armed forces

14 Mar 2017 | By NewsBytes Desk
China's defence priorities

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for further modernization of China's armed forces, saying "Efforts should be made to provide greater science and technology support for the People's Liberation Army."

Speaking at the annual meeting of Parliament, Xi called "to push for science and technology innovation."

He said technological innovation is the key to improving the army's effectiveness in battle.

In context: China's defence priorities

Defence BudgetAssessing China's spending

Experts cite a lack of transparency in China's defence spending, that makes understanding defence allocations difficult.

Countries have no international obligation to outline their military spending, hence budgets are usually put out with varying degrees of flexibility.

As a result, analyzing China's defence spending is contingent on Beijing's willingness to provide details, which have so far been scant.

Actual FiguresProjected vs Estimated figures

Think tanks and other governments also put out estimates on China's budget, based on data and observations.

China's 2016 defence budget was pegged by Beijing at $146.6 billion. However, academicians and observers pegged China's actual spending between $180-200 billion.

Similarly in 2015, Beijing announced a $142.2 billion budget. Think tanks like SIPRI and IISS, cited payments and purchases by Beijing at $165-180 billion.

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China's 2017 budget

Based on Beijing's statements of a 7% increase, China's official defence budget for 2017 stands at $147.9 billion, divided into three parts: personnel expenses, activity expenses to pay for training and military exercises and expenses to purchase and repair weapons and other military equipment.

Threat perceptionsThe South China Sea issue

Beijing clarified that the 2017 budget would focus on "strengthening maritime and air defense as well as border controls."

Washington's growing assertiveness in the SCS has irked Beijing, which has increased the build-up of defences on disputed islands in the region.

India's willingness to supply arms to Beijing's SCS rivals (Vietnam) has exacerbated the need to assert its dominance in the region.

A new aircraft carrier?

A defence analyst from Beijing recently said "In order to protect China's territories and overseas interests, China needs two carrier groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean." China's 2nd carrier will be launched this year, and a 3rd in 2021.

Counter-terrorismCounter-terrorism: Uighurs and Xinjinag

The Muslim Uighur community in China's Xinjiang province have long been at loggerheads with Beijing. China has begun stepping up military presence in the region to quell separatist tendencies.

This issue has taken new urgency, after a recent video emerged, where the Uighur rebels allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS.

This could radically transform China's threat perception in the region, giving renewed focus on counter-terrorism.

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06 Mar 2017China to bolster defence, but mum on budget

China vowed to bolster its defence capabilities, saying it would increase military spending this year. However, officials didn't divulge a figure for the increase.

Parliament spokeswoman, Fu Ying confirmed that there would be a 7% increase in defence spending which would account for 1.3% of the GDP.

She said China would "deepen the reform of national defense...suited to our national security and development interests"

14 Mar 2017Xi Jinping calls for further modernization of China's armed forces