4 min read.Updated: 27 May 2020, 09:20 PM ISTHarsh V. Pant,Kartik Bommakanti
Any appearance of weakness in Xi on the world stage could imperil his grip on power within China
Amid the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has increased defence expenditure by 6.6%. Although this increase is believed to be the lowest in three decades, the PRC’s decision to rev-up spending in the midst of a global health and economic crisis, which it ironically precipitated, demonstrates the importance it attaches to defence preparedness at a minimum, and its commitment to the pursuit of expansionist goals at a maximum, whether in the maritime or continental domain. Three issues are worthy of consideration. First, how does the current increase compare with the budgetary increases of the past? Second, the extent of motivations behind China’s accumulation of defence capabilities will pose a threat to its immediate neighbours, including India, and this deserves reflection. Finally, despite experiencing negative growth for the first time since 1976, the PRC has hardly shown any doubt or restraint about its defence requirements, as is evident in its latest increase in defence spending.