China on Sunday revealed one of its lowest growth targets for the next few years, 2023, but increased military spending. at the beginning of its annual parliamentary session which must approve the third term of the president Xi Jinping Defense budget the second largest in the world after that of the United States of Americawill rise 7.2 percent this year to 1.5 trillion yuan ($225 billion), the strongest rise since 2019.
7.2 percent growth
For the eighth consecutive year, defense budget growth China’s remains below ten percent, but it still raises the suspicion of the country’s territorial disputes with the Asian giant. This is the case, for example, with India’s disputes over its borders in the Himalayas, Japan’s over the control of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands or the Philippines over just incidents over the kingdom of certain islands in the South China Sea.
Even Western nations are worried. A senior US official recently accused Beijing of wanting to invade Taiwan in a few years or launch a fleet of military balloons around the world. Even NATO, traditionally focused on Europe, saw an eastern power challenge to the interests of the alliance members from the previous year.
The Chinese presents its Army as purely defensive and emphasizes that it has only one military base abroad, in Djibouti, unlike the hundreds that the United States has. In addition, military spending stands at two percent of national GDP, less than three percent of American power.
Before nearly three thousand delegates of the National Congress gathered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Prime Minister exited, Li KeqiangIt is certain “Contents from abroad do not stop efforts to increase”. For this reason, he called the Army’s “focused” training as well as “preparation for combat” while Sino-American tensions, especially regarding the future of the island of Taiwan, are sharpening.
On a more global level, the leader stated that “the Chinese economy is experiencing a solid recovery” after three years of slow growth due to the pandemic and the harsh health restrictions applied by Beijing. Thus, the growth target was set at “around 5 percent,” one of the lowest in decades.
In 2022, the GDP has increased by only three percent, one of the worst in 40 years. in the context of the economic slowdown, the pandemic, the blockade and the crisis in the real estate sector. “China’s economic development has encountered many unexpected events both at home and abroad, such as the epidemic,” Li Keqiang acknowledged.
But “under the strong leadership of the party’s Central Committee, we have effectively organized the prevention and control and economic and social development of the epidemic,” the Chinese premier added. In October he was already confirmed in his duties at the Head of the Communist Party (PCCh).
As every year, a few surprises are expected at this carefully organized event, in which laws previously approved by the CCP, the supreme power in Asia, can be put to a vote. XI, 69, has faced several cases in recent months, such as the demonstrations at the end of November against the “no covid” policy and later, the wave of deaths after the abandonment of this public health policy.
Despite the change in policy, the Chamber is still under anti-covid measures: attendees, except for high-ranking officials, wear masks and journalists had to undergo a PCR test the day before and quarantine in the designated hotel. order, as in legislative meetings in recent years and in the Congress of the 20th CPC last October.
the new prime minister
In this new parliamentary session it is expected that Li Qiangthe former head of the CCP in Shanghai and a politician close to Xi Jinping the new prime minister. The ambassadors will also address political, economic and social issues as well birth, animal health, sex education, virtual bullying or relationship with Taiwan.
Security in Beijing has been tightened in recent days in anticipation of the event, with the government at the entrance to the capital and security agents on the streets and bridges. Although the covid policy did not hit his image, XI maintains a “very strong” position in the party leadership.which makes it almost untouched, consider Alfred Muluan WuProfessor at the National University of Singapore.
According to Steve Tsang, from the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, Xi Jinping will have the opportunity in this parliamentary session to defend his administration of the popular vote at the end of November. “He did it when the demonstrations called for him and the CCP to go away. He calmed them down and suppressed the cause of injury,” said Tsang, to whom Xi “can present himself as a leader, not as someone who pushed him to act.”