China boosts defense budget by 7.2% and sets 5% economic growth goal

A general view of the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 4, 2024. (Photo/AFP)

China has announced a 7.2% increase in its defence budget, which is already the world’s second-highest behind the United States at 1.6 trillion yuan [$222 billion], roughly mirroring the rise of the last year.

The official budget figure was announced on Tuesday at the opening session of the legislature's annual meeting.

China's official growth target for this year is around 5 percent, Premier Li Qiang said in an annual report on the government's plans and performance that prioritised both security and the economy.

Li also said the government would issue 1 trillion yuan [about $139 billion] in "ultra-long special treasury bonds" in 2024 and over each of the coming several years — a long hoped-for extra promise of government spending to help support flagging growth.

The ruling Communist Party has been emphasising the need to raise consumer spending to help drive the economy. But the consumer-led recovery it was counting on after anti-pandemic controls ended in late 2022 faltered midway through last year.

Last year, the economy grew at a 5.2 percent pace, but that was after a very slow 3 percent annual growth rate in 2022, when the country was enduring the worst disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Li said the leadership would strive to improve its handling of policies.

'Transparent policy environment'

"We should communicate policies to the public in a well-targeted way to create a stable, transparent and predictable policy environment," Li said in a speech on government plans before the ceremonial National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People.

Li added that the government would continue with a "pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy," suggesting no major change in the leadership’s approach to pursuing what it calls "high quality" development.

He said policies should be more targeted and effective and reflect "the expectations of enterprises and the people when deciding on work and policy priorities."

Nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People's Congress and about 2,000 members of a parallel advisory body were present in Beijing's majestic Great Hall of the People, adjacent to Tiananmen Square.

The meetings of the national congress run for about a week and are China's biggest political events of the year.


Source: TRT