Beijing, Mar 5 (EFE).- China is to increase its defense spending by 7.1 percent in 2022, according to a preliminary report presented Saturday at the inaugural session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s most important political event of the year.
The budget will amount to 1.45 billion yuan ($229 million), data that will be reviewed during the annual plenary session of the NPC, which will run until next Saturday.
The figure means the growth of the defense budget will be higher than expected for the economy as a whole, for which the authorities have set a growth target of around 5.5 percent for this year.
In 2021, the Asian giant’s military budget, which has remained around 1.3 percent of GDP in recent years, grew by 6.8 percent to 1.35 trillion yuan.
The data is released after a year of growing tensions with Taiwan, a territory over which China claims sovereignty, and while Europe is figuring out how to tackle the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, one of Beijing’s main allies.
In his speech Saturday when presenting the government work report before the inaugural session of the top legislature, Premier Li Keqiang affirmed that China “will enhance military training and combat readiness, stay firm and flexible in carrying out military struggle, and safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”
According to the premier, China seeks to “move faster to modernize the military’s logistics and asset management systems, and build a modern weaponry and equipment management system.”
“We will continue the reform of national defense and the military,” he added.
Regarding Taiwan, an island over which China claims its sovereignty, Li indicated that Beijing will “remain committed” to its current policies, such as the “One China” principle.
“We will advance the peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and the reunification of China. We firmly oppose any separatist activities seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and firmly oppose foreign interference,” he claimed.
“All of us, Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, should come together to advance the great and glorious cause of China’s rejuvenation,” he concluded.
The official also briefly referred to the country’s international relations, emphasizing that China “will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace.”
“China will always work to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order. We stand ready to work with all others in the international community to make new and greater contributions to promoting world peace, stability, development and prosperity,” Li said. EFE