The 2020s will mark the first time that China has not set any growth targets for its economy. Last year Beijing saw growth between 6% and 6.5%. GDP grew 6.1%, the slowest pace in nearly 30 years.
This was followed by a coronavirus epidemic and a week-long economic shutdown across China. GDP contracted 6.8% in the first quarter, the first contraction Beijing has reported since 1976.
External pressures as the economy shrinks Was mounted.
And when the spending numbers for 2020 were announced last Friday, Beijing’s priorities were instantly clear.
The military’s share of the pain – its budget growth is the lowest in decades – but the pain of the PLA was less than the pain inflicted on other parts of the Chinese government.
For example, the budget was 13.3% lower for general public services, 11.6% lower for foreign affairs, .5.5% lower for education, and 9.1% lower for science and technology.
“The proposed budget advises Beijing to feel insecure and blockaded,” said Timothy Heath, a senior researcher at the RANND Corporation think tank in Washington.
“Expensive spending growth reflects intense concerns about China’s fading expectations of peaceful integration with China’s top rival, the United States, and Taiwan,” Heath said.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Beijing’s defense budget was appropriate for the time being.
“It can be said that the world is not peaceful,” Qian said during the presidency of the National People’s Congress this week.
“China’s homeland security and foreign interests are also facing some real threats ….
“It is reasonable and necessary that China’s defense spending increase moderately and steadily,” Wu said.
Compared to the United States
Beijing has also criticized the military budget increase as the slowest in years, saying the overall figure was a fraction of the money spent by some foreign military.
In fact, Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, told a news conference last week, “China’s total defense spending in 2019 was a quarter of the world’s largest defense spending.
The United States is the largest defense spender, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
And when you look at the progress that the Chinese military has made since becoming president of the CIA in 2013, a large gap between the military budgets of China and the United States denies credibility:
Lack of transparency
All of this costs a lot of money, but in the case of Beijing, it’s often hard to see where it came from.
After analyzing everything from currency exchange rates to labor across China, Bartels came up with a 13% difference between the U.S. and Chinese defense budgets.
He told CNN that any defense figures coming from China should be treated with skepticism because Beijing does not specify where the money goes or under what budget it was allocated.
Bartels gave an example of a new aircraft carrier built in America vs. China.
In the United States, the government would declare the price paid to an independent contractor to build the carrier, but a state-run company in China would build warships and be accountable only to Beijing.
The money for the new aircraft carrier can be transferred to the company in any one of the numerous accounts without being related to the warship.
In the end, outside observers can’t really tell what the price of this ship is.
“In this national game they can play with state-owned enterprises,” Bartels said.
Police and Coast Guard
Itih researchers and IISS analysis further noted that other parts of China’s defense establishment, such as its growing coast guard, are not seeing at least some of the military budget spending.
According to the IISS survey, the budget of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), a military force responsible for law enforcement, border defense and internal security, actually declined when the 201st Coast Guard came under PAP control.
“This would suggest that (Chinese Coast Guard) spending remains as an additional budget defense-related expenditure, and that China’s total defense spending figures should be added to this,” the IISS study said.
Meanwhile, the China Power project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies mentioned this The annual expenditure figures released by China’s finance and defense ministries could be Close as much as 3 billion
The buildup was part of Xi Jinping’s military modernization aimed at making the PLA at least equal to the U.S. military in Asia.
The progress that has been made since Shi came to power in 2013 – and especially since he reconstituted the country’s Central Military Commission and Corruption was targeted in 2017 – it is clear that Beijing will not address any weaknesses in the PLA.
Bartels said the budget sent a strong message from Shi to the PLA that “what the People’s Liberation Army is doing is really valuable to us, and we want to be able to protect them even in less positive economic times.”
CNN’s Steven Jiang and Lara contributed to this report.