NEW DELHI: China has announced an 8.1% increase in its defence budget for 2018, amounting to $175 billion, which is over three times more than India’s $45-billion defence allocation. A budget report which is to be submitted to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s national legislature, that began in Beijing on Monday revealed that the country’s defence budget in 2018 would be 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion). It is an 8.1% increase over last year’s defence budget ($151.4 billion). The latest defence budget is also the highest for China since 2016 ($143.7 billion).
India’s defence budget for 2018-19 is Rs 2.95 lakh crore ($45 billion). Last year, it was Rs 2.74 lakh crore ($42 billion). With high defence budget, China is focused on modernising its forces, including building a powerful naval fleet and air bases. In comparison, India’s modernisation programmes, such as procurement of new combat jets for bringing up the numbers of fighter squadrons, nextgeneration submarines and future infantry combat vehicles, have slowed down. India needs to quickly bridge the gap in military capabilities with China to build strategic deterrence, especially in the wake of Dokalam standoff in the recent past.
Chinese premier Li Keqiang, while delivering the government work report at the opening session of NPC, said China will continue to expand its air and naval defence capabilities as its national security is undergoing changes. China will “advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests”, he added.
In 2016, China began implementing major military modernisation and organisational reforms, aimed at transforming the PLA to conduct joint operations and win regional conflicts. Some of these reforms include establishing theatre commands, joint operations command centre and developing the strategic support force to combine its space, cyber and electronic warfare elements.
China’s military modernisation also focuses on sustaining operations beyond the country. One example is its Djibouti military base. It is also likely to create additional bases in friendly countries such as Pakistan. Its air force, army and navy are being developed for offensive and long-distance operations.