Home China China’s Military Spending Drastically More Than What It Declared : US Admiral

China’s Military Spending Drastically More Than What It Declared : US Admiral

United States Indo Pacific
FILE PHOTO: Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command speaks at the IISS Special Lecture in Singapore March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Caroline Chia/File Photo

The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command has expressed concerns about China increasing its defence budget despite its struggling economy. Speaking in Tokyo, Admiral John Aquilino pointed out that China’s economy has been hit hard by problems in its real estate sector and claimed that the official growth figures were not accurate. He also said China was spending “drastically more” on its military than the 7.2% increase it declared last month.

“Despite a failing economy, there’s a conscious decision to fund military capability. That’s concerning to me,” said Aquilino, who is due to leave his post next month.

He also criticised China’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and actions in the South and East China seas, specifically around the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and Taiwan.

“As it applies specifically to Taiwan, I am watching an increasingly aggressive campaign plan of coercion and pressure,” he said.

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The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

A top Chinese military leader told a gathering of senior foreign naval officials this week that China remains committed to resolving maritime disputes with other countries through dialogue but will not allow itself to be “abused”.

Aquilino also labelled North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime “disgusting” for spending on its military even as the country has grappled with food shortages. “This is another regime where every bit of economic advance that they may have despite the sanctions are going towards military capability and not to feeding the North Korean people. That’s disgusting,” he said.

With inputs from Reuters