Chinese Congress Lays Out 6.8% Defense Budget Hike for 2021, Paralleling Economic Growth

China’s military spending is the world’s second-largest after the US’ colossal budget, but in contrast to Washington’s goals of global power projection and engaging in multiple conflicts at once, the People’s Liberation Army has defined its role as fundamentally defensive.

A draft budget report issued at the opening of the annual session of China’s National People’s Congress on Friday includes another substantial military budget increase for 2021 that, while higher than last year’s increase, roughly parallels its projected economic growth.

In other words, defense spending will remain at roughly 1.3% of China’s gross domestic product, which is far below the world average of 2.6% of GDP, even though Beijing has the world’s second-largest budget in terms of US dollar equivalent. By comparison, the US’ $740 billion defense budget, which does not include further discretionary bills or the nuclear weapons budget, is about 3.5% of its GDP.

China’s fiscal year runs from January to December, unlike the US’ fiscal year which runs from October to September.

“In China’s case, we are committed to the path of peaceful development. Our defense policy is defensive in nature. The efforts to strengthen our national defense do not target or threaten any other country,” he added.

The increase is keeping in line with plans paid out by the Communist Party of China’s 19th Central Committee plenary sessions in October, which made “making significant strides in the…

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