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China to raise defense budget by 8.1% in 2018

08 March 2018

China announced an economic growth target of around 6.5% for 2018, according to a work report Monday at the opening of the annual parliamentary session.

The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, has kicked off a potentially momentous political summit in Beijing by instructing Communist party officials to "resolutely uphold" the primacy of president Xi Jinping and follow their sovereign in thought, word and deed.

China has no desire to overturn the existing global order and its increasingly powerful military does not constitute a threat to others, the spokesman for the country's ceremonial legislature said on Sunday.

"We have to be bound by the One China principle and the 1992 Consensus, strengthen the cross-strait cultural and economic exchanges and partnership, and realize a meeting between cross-strait leaders, while strongly opposing Taiwanese separatism to effectively maintain cross-strait peace and stability", he said.

Xi has promised to make China's military forces "world class" by the middle of the century.

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"Well according to the constitution of the CPC there is no such provision that there shall be no more than two successive terms for the General Secretary or Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in the constitution of the China". Analysts have questioned whether Beijing can hit this year's target without stimulus from bank lending and government spending, which would set back reforms aimed at nurturing self-sustaining growth and curbing debt.

The number stayed the same even though China's economy grew by 6.9 percent past year, exceeding the target-suggesting that the Chinese regime wished to be cautious and reduce financial risks.

Only the US outpaces China in military spending, with Washington's defense outlays running about four times Beijing's, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). "This shows China insists on peaceful development and a defensive defence strategy".

Last year's growth target was "6.5 percent or higher".

The Chinese media is justifying the need for a strong leadership to ensure sustainable growth and China's ascension as an ever more potent superpower.

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Such progress is not easy to achieve, he said, adding that progress is the result of the CPC's firm leadership, as well as the hard work of all the people.

Noting that this year's increase was roughly the same as last year's when adjusted for inflation, Shanghai military expert Ni Lexiong said China was seeking to avoid a full-on arms race based on quantity of weapons, choosing instead to invest in high-tech systems and training.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed a military budget that is the largest since 2011 and focused on beefing up the United States' nuclear defenses and countering the growing strength of China and Russian Federation. The 6.5 percent goal is consistent with President Xi Jinping's promise to deliver a "moderately prosperous" society by 2020.

The report said that China's economics and financial risks were "on the whole manageable".

Though China doesn't wish to be seen as a Russian ally, there is a renewed sense of big-power competition, Yue said.

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China to raise defense budget by 8.1% in 2018