The Chinese Ministry of Finance has released its next year’s military expenditure figure in its annual report at the National People’s Congress held in Beijing on March 5.

In detail, China will spend around $229 billion on military expenses in the coming year. According to a Bloomberg calculation, China plans a 7.1% increase in defense spending this year—the fastest pace since the 7.5% proposed for 2019.

However, several diplomats and foreign experts suppose that the reported figure is lower than the actual amount.

Previously, China claimed its defense budget in 2022 is less than a third of the proposed U.S. expenditure.

Beijing’s move came after the Biden administration declared its long-awaited Indo-Pacific plan to counter China’s growing economic and military impact.

In the government’s annual work report, the Chinese Premier emphasized safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.

He said, “We will enhance military training and combat readiness. We will continue the reform of national defense and the military and step up innovations in defense science and technology.”

According to Reuters, Takashi Kawakami, a professor at Japan’s Takushoku University, said the spending increase was “significant.”

“We will see how the U.S. responds to the increase in the defense budget, and how much China will increase its defense budget next year, but it looks like it will result in an arms race.”

Kuo Yu-jen, a security expert at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies, said because of the technology war between China and the United States, Beijing was forced to invest more in research and development.

He said, “Costs for China’s third and fourth aircraft carriers are going up, too.”

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