China on Tuesday announced a 7.5% increase in its defence budget for this year, hiking it to a whopping $177.61 billion.
The current budget of China, which is the world’s second largest military spender after the US, is three times higher than that of India.
According to reports, the 2019 defence budget will be 1.19 trillion yuan (about $177.61 billion), according to a draft budget report to be submitted at the opening of the annual session of China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), on Tuesday.
The increase this year is lower than that of last year’s 8.1% which amounted to $175 billion.
China, which increased its defence budget in double digits till 2015, has been lowering it to single digit hikes since 2016.
China’s budgeted defence spending growth rate stood at 7.6% in 2016, 7% in 2017 and 8.1% in 2018.
With this year’s increase, China’s defence spending moved closer to the $200 billion mark, making it the highest spender on defence after the United States.
India’s defence budget this year was increased by 6.87 per cent to Rs 3.18 lakh crore against last year’s allocation of Rs 2.98 lakh crore, notwithstanding expectations of a major hike when China and Pakistan were bolstering their military capabilities.
In recent years, China has resorted to major reforms of its military, which included giving priority to expand its navy and air force to enhance its influence abroad, while cutting down three lakh troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Even after the cuts, the PLA is the world’s biggest military with two million personnel in its ranks.