China Drops ‘Peaceful Reunification’ Reference to Taiwan; Raises Defence Spending by 7.2%

REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
Soldiers of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) march in formation past Tiananmen Square during a rehearsal before a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People’s Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will boost defense spending by 7.2% this year, the same rate as last year, but higher than the government economic growth forecast, according to an official work report reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

The budget showed 1.67 trillion yuan ($230.60 billion) allocated to military spending.

The defense budget is closely watched by China’s neighbors and the United States, who are wary about Beijing’s strategic intentions and the development of its armed forces as tensions rose sharply in recent years over Taiwan.

In a separate report, China said it would “resolutely oppose separatist activities aimed at ‘Taiwan independence’ and external interference.”

The work report also said China would “be firm in advancing the cause of China reunification,” dropping the mention of “peaceful reunification” in previous reports.

This year’s increase in defense spending marks the ninth consecutive single-digit increase. As in previous years, no breakdown of the spending was given, just the overall amount and the rate of increase.

The National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, is due to hear Premier Li Qiang’s first work report at its annual meeting in Beijing on Tuesday.

China has set an economic growth target for 2024 of about 5%, similar to last year’s goal, according to an official work report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

$1 = 7.1987 Chinese yuan renminbi