BEIJING, China (CNN) — China’s budget report issued at the start of the opening of the National People’s Congress, Sunday, said that the Chinese government will raise its annual military budget for 2023, by 7.2%, to nearly 1.55 trillion yuan (224 billion US dollars).
According to official statistics, China’s defense budget increased by 7.1% in 2022, reaching 1.45 trillion yuan (about 210 billion US dollars).
The spending increase marks the second year in a row in which the annual rise in military spending exceeded 7% and exceeds the 7.1% growth of last year, amid rising geopolitical tensions and a regional arms race.
“The armed forces should intensify military training and readiness in all fields, develop new military strategic directions, devote more energy to training under combat conditions, and make well-coordinated efforts to strengthen military action in all directions and fields,” the report said.
The meeting of the National People’s Congress is a major political event every year, held alongside the meeting of China’s highest political advisory body, and the two meetings are held for the first time since Chinese leader Xi Jinping won a third term at the top of the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy in last October.
The Chinese government has also set its target for economic growth at 5% in 2023, according to a report released Sunday ahead of the annual National People’s Congress meeting.
In 2022, China set a growth target of around 5.5%, and instead the economy grew at around 4.4%, according to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“China’s economy is enjoying steady recovery and showing huge potential for further growth,” said outgoing Premier Li Keqiang while presenting the government work report at the opening of the conference on Sunday.
The Chinese economy added more than 12 million urban jobs last year, with the urban unemployment rate dropping to 5.5%, according to the report, which emphasized that China is focused on ensuring stable growth, employment and prices amid the wave of global inflation.
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