China to increase military spending by 7.2%

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By Rory Elliott Armstrong  & AP
The US and Chinese flag, side by side.
The US and Chinese flag, side by side.   -  Copyright  Kiichiro Sato/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

China on Sunday announced a 7.2% increase in its defence budget for the coming year, up slightly from last year's 7.1%. 

That marks the eighth consecutive year of single-digit increases in what is now the world’s second-largest military budget. Second only to the United States in terms of military spending, China's budget currently sits at 210 billion euros. The US spend four times that amount. 

The announcement was made at China's rubber-stamp parliament, National People's Congress (NPC), but analysts say Beijing downplays how much it spends on defence. It was also announced at the meeting that China would pursue a reduced economic growth target of about 5% this year.

Other confirmations are to be that of the president's third term and also the unveiling of the new premier, China's equivalent of a prime minister who traditionally oversees the economy and administrative aspects of governance.

Li Qiang, one of Mr Xi's most trusted colleagues, is expected to assume the role.

China's current conflicts

The hike comes at a moment when President Xi Jinping's ties with Joe Biden are under strain over China's close ties with Russia, the possible invasion of Taiwan and the recent spy balloon saga.  

US officials have also repeatedly warned that China may invade Taiwan in the coming years. China has held ever-growing displays of military force in the air and seas around Taiwan, including the firing of ballistic missiles.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing's control.