BEIJING’S move to increase its defense budget is usual among big economies in boosting their military capabilities.
The Philippine’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Jaime FlorCruz believes the Asian superpower’s “defense strategy is more conditioned with their rivalry with [others,] and…not aimed at any regular region like ours.”
According to FlorCruz, Chinese officials explained that the defense budget for 2023 has grown by 7.2 percent to 1.55 trillion yuan, or about $225 billion, for their national interest.
In a media interview at the Philippine Embassy in the Chinese capital city, the Filipino envoy said he is hoping that “big powers” will pursue peaceful approaches to resolving issues, “especially in our region, in our backyard.”
The Philippines, as one of the 10 member-countries of the Asean, including China, have overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.
FlorCruz said it is not surprising that rising powers like China, the world’s second-largest economy, keep on beefing up their defense capabilities.
“I think the Chinese concept is: to prevent war, we have to prepare in case of war,” he said. “If you think of the other countries, especially the United States…they have been increasing their military capability budget all these years, and again, the Chinese compare theirs with America.”
In the March 4 press conference, spokesperson for the first session of 14th the National People’s Congress Wang Chao described China’s defense budget increase as “appropriate and reasonable.”
The figure is slightly higher compared to last year’s 7.1 percent, marking eight consecutive years that China has increased its defense spend.
Wang said the hike is needed for meeting complex security challenges, and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country.
In delivering the government’s work report during the opening of the first session of the 14th NPC on March 5, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China’s “armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board.”
“The people’s armed forces [has] intensified efforts to enhance their political loyalty; to strengthen themselves through reform, scientific and technological advances, and personnel training; and to practice law-based governance,” Li said. “They stepped up military training, increased combat preparedness, and became a much more modernized and capable fighting force.”
The premier also said China’s economy is expected to grow around 5 percent this year.
Image credits: PNA/Liza T. Agoot