Wendell Minnick
Wendell Minnick

A tough fight against corruption and a firm increase of their budget. President Xi Jinping is using both sticks and carrots to get the powerful military establishment into line, writes defense analyst Wendell Minnick in Defense News.

Wendell Minnick:

China’s 2015 defense budget increase could reflect political strategy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is pushing the military to swear loyalty to the Communist Party while he arrests military leaders on corruption charges, according to an expert.

China’s official news service, Xinhua, announced that the defense increase was still the “lowest growth in five years as the country confronts mounting pressure in the face of an economic slowdown.” The Chinese government is struggling with a debt crisis, a real estate bubble and massive corruption. The National People’s Congress (NPC) announced that the government was lowering its growth target to 7 percent for 2015, the lowest in 15 years.

China raised 2015 defense spending by 10.1 percent compared with 2014 to US $141.5 billion. NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying made the announcement during the annual NPC in Beijing on March 4. This marks the 26th time China’s defense budget has seen nominal double-digit increases since 1989.

“In China, defense spending increases have become sacrosanct,” said Richard Bitzinger, coordinator of the military transformations program at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “I suppose the bigger surprise would’ve been if they had not increased the budget by so much.”

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