On Monday, Beijing announced an 8 per cent increase in its defence budget for 2018. The announcement was made as part of a budget report presented before the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress.
The proposed increase in defence spending for this year compares with a 7 per cent increase in 2017 and 7.6 per cent in 2016, which saw a halt to double-digit increases that occurred in the previous 6 years.
Whilst this year’s increase and that of 2016 and 2017 may not be as much as the first 6 years of this decade, as one fellow with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington noted China’s military budget is “disproportional in the sense that the economies of Southeast Asia do not have the resources to keep pace” and commented that “whether or not this is a threat depends on how China utilises its capabilities. That said, its maritime presence is certainly growing”.