China defense spending to rise 7.2%, fastest pace since 2019

China will boost defense spending by 7.2% this year — the fastest clip since 2019 — but only slightly outpacing last year’s increase and faster than the government’s modest economic growth forecast, as Premier Li Keqiang called for the armed forces to boost combat preparedness.

The national budget released on Sunday showed 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion) allocated to military spending.

The defense budget will be closely watched by the U.S. and China’s neighbors, including Japan, who are concerned by Beijing’s strategic intentions and development of its military, especially as tensions have spiked in recent years over Taiwan.

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