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China increases defense budget 6.8 percent amid pandemic

China increases defense budget 6.8 percent amid pandemic
© Twitter/China National Space Administration

China will be increasing its defense budget to 6.8 percent following a year marked by economic struggles and lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Finance said Friday at the beginning of the National People’s Congress annual meeting that $208 billion will be spent on China’s military this year, Bloomberg reported

This is slightly lower than what some experts predicted as many believed the budget was going to increase by 7 percent or more.

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“We will provide stronger financial guarantees to vigorously support the modernization of national defense and the armed forces, and help China’s defense capabilities rise in step with its economic strength,” said the Ministry of Finance.

Last year, the country increased its defense budget by just 6.6 percent due to the pandemic, but a partially recovered economy has allowed Beijing to up the amount this year.

Some officials in the army will get a 40 percent increase in payout as a way of retaining talent as China looks to completely modernize its military in the future and make it stronger, according to Bloomberg. 

China is aiming to compete with the U.S. on the global scale as tensions rise between the two countries over South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

Many experts believe that the amount China spends on its defense budget is actually much higher than what the country reports.