Notwithstanding the economic crisis faced by the country in the wake of coronavirus, China has increased its defence budget to $179 billion this year from $177.6 billion in 2019, marking a moderate increase of about 6.6 per cent

”The 2020 defence budget continues to see a single-digit growth for a fifth consecutive year. It is the lowest growth rate in recent years,” Chinese official news agency Xinhua said, quoting a draft budget report presented today to the ongoing annual session of National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature.

The announcement comes amid an increase in China’s tensions with the US in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, including India, Japan, and Vietnam.

China is the world’ second largest military spender after the US. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recently said in its report that the military expenditure figures of China’s defence spending in 2019 amounted to $232 billion.

Noting China has no “hidden military spending,” Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the third session of the 13th NPC, said that the country is transparent about its defence spending.

Chinese analysts say the budget is adequate to provide sufficient funding for military development despite the economic impact brought by the COVID-19 outbreak.

China says it has been facing national security threats, including those taking place ”very nearby”, and in non-traditional security fields. The budget clearly indicates that China wants to ensure that all major programmes of the military and key spending fields are not affected by the pandemic and remain on schedule.

China has also ensured that it has enough funding available in key areas such as the development of new weapons and equipment, troops’ salaries and benefits and training expenses.