China has stated that it will increase military spending by more than 7% this year, citing “escalating” threats.
The announcement was made at the National People’s Congress (NPC), a rubber-stamp parliament that is set to confirm President Xi Jinping’s third term.
Beijing’s stated military budget of around $225 billion (£186 billion) is dwarfed by the United States’, which is four times larger.
Analysts believe China understates its defence spending.
China’s defence budget has increased by about 10% per year over the last decade, with 2014 seeing the highest increase of 12.2%.
“External attempts to suppress and contain China are escalating,” wrote outgoing Premier Li Keqiang in his report.
“The armed forces should increase overall military training and readiness,” he wrote.
The meeting also announced that China would pursue a lower economic growth target of around 5% this year.
The Two Sessions, as the meetings are known, take place once a year.
However, delegates are expected to reshape several key Communist Party and state institutions during this year’s sessions.
This week’s NPC meeting will also formalise Mr. Xi’s leadership of the country, as he will be elected President of China and Commander-in-Chief of the People’s Liberation Army.
He consolidated his position in Chinese power in October of last year, when the Communist Party re-elected him as its leader for a third term.
The increase in military spending comes as Mr. Xi navigates deteriorating relations with the United States over the Ukraine war and the recent spy balloon saga, even as he warms his embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Officials in the United States have also repeatedly warned that China may invade Taiwan in the coming years. China has increased its military displays in the air and seas around Taiwan, including the launch of ballistic missiles.
China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be absorbed by Beijing.
The NPC will also announce the appointment of a new premier, China’s equivalent of a prime minister who traditionally oversees the economy and administrative aspects of governance.
Mr. Xi’s most trusted colleague, Li Qiang, is expected to take over.
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China’s Two Sessions: The Fundamentals
The annual meetings of China’s legislature and top political advisory body, the Two Sessions in Beijing, draw thousands of representatives from across the country.
The National People’s Congress, the country’s equivalent of a parliament, is the most powerful state organ in theory. In reality, it serves as a rubber stamp for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, passing key laws based on previously made decisions.
Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which has no real legislative power, come from all walks of life. Their discussions are noteworthy for emerging social and economic issues.