China congress to cement Xi's grip on power

China projected a modest growth target of 6.5% of gross domestic product, the same as previous year, while presenting the budgetary proposals to the National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament, on Monday.

Local government debt grew 7.5% percent past year to $2.6 trillion, according to figures in January.

"The increase in China's national defense budget will mainly be used to develop new weapons and equipment, improve training conditions, and guarantee military reform and benefits for officers and other personnel", said Major General Chen Zhou, a researcher with the Chinese PLA Academy of Military Sciences who had participated in the writing of previous China's National Defense White Papers.

According to the report, the country aims to create over 11 million new urban jobs in this year and to maintain an inflation level at around 3 percent.

According to Maj. Gen. Zhen Chou, the increase in China's national defense budget is reasonable, legal, appropriate and sustainable, given the profound changes in China's national strength, the security environment and the global strategic situation.

China plans to increase its military spending by 8.1% in 2018 in an effort to modernize its armed forces.

Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis in Hong Kong, cites calculations showing China's revenues as a percentage of output clearly declining since 2015.

Beijing has also imposed increasingly assertive claims to vast expanses of the contested South China Sea, while engaging in confrontations with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea and with India over Himalayan border regions. In April, it launched a 50,000-ton carrier built entirely on its own based on the Ukrainian model. It will likely become more meddlesome in Korean affairs as it was in its protest of the installation of a USA antimissile system in Korea.

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China's navy is also relying on numerical superiority to boost its influence.

China decried the USA strategic posture as "Cold War mentality". "Also on special technologies like quantum satellite communications and so on".

In January, the Department of Defense published a summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which singled out China and Russian Federation as revanchist powers that are the "central challenge to USA prosperity and security".

China's military planners have also taken note of the USA shift this year in its threat analysis from terrorism to rivals Russian Federation and China, said Yue Gang, a retired colonel and military analyst.

But analysts said China's military spending is still fairly low by the standards of developed countries.

Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King's College London, said Wang's claim that the proposal had overwhelming support could be a veneer.

"The smell of gunpowder is growing thicker", he said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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