China Rising (but slower)
Beijing announced Saturday its military spending will grow by just 7 percent in 2017, the slowest rate of growth for the Chinese defense budget in years. Last year's increase of 7.6 percent was the first single-digit hike after nearly two decades of annual double-digit growth.
The news came with a reiteration from the Chinese legislature that the military is exclusively defensive in nature. "We advocate dialogue for peaceful resolutions, while at the same time, we need to possess the ability to defend our sovereignty and interests," said Fu Ying, a representative of the National People's Congress. "The strengthening of Chinese capabilities benefits the preservation of peace and security in this region, and not the opposite."
This move comes despite political pressure in China's state-run media to further increase Chinese defense spending in response to President Trump's proposed 10 percent addition to the U.S. military budget. "There was a view that China would increase its defense budget in line with the rise of the defense budget in the United States," said Takashi Kawakami of Japan's Takushoku University. "But the fact China kept it at this level means it's in a wait-and-see mode regarding the Trump administration."