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China’s Defense Spending ‘Drastically More’ Than Declared: US Admiral

A high-ranking US military official has claimed that China is spending “drastically more” on defense than it recently declared to the public.

The Asian military superpower announced last month that it is boosting its defense spending by 7.2 percent in 2024 to 1.665 trillion yuan ($231.4 billion).

But according to outgoing US Indo-Pacific Command head Admiral John Aquilino, Beijing is obviously earmarking more on defense as tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea continue.

He pointed to China’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and actions in the Indo-Pacific as one of the bases of his assessment.

“Despite a failing economy, there’s a conscious decision to fund military capability,” Aquilino told reporters in Tokyo. “That’s concerning to me.”

‘Paying Off’

Last month, Aquilino remarked on Beijing’s efforts to rapidly ramp up its military capabilities amid an alleged “race” with the US.

Since 2021, or when US President Joe Biden took office, the Asian country has reportedly added more than 400 fighter aircraft and 20 major warships to its inventory.

It has also doubled the number of its ballistic and cruise missiles, as per the admiral’s statement.

Aquilino said such actions could be in line with President Xi Jinping’s directive for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.

“The PLA’s actions indicate their ability to meet Xi’s preferred timeline to unify Taiwan with mainland China by force if directed,” he told Bloomberg.

US House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said China’s ability to develop and field modern systems at a rapid pace reflects that its unprecedented level of defense spending is now paying off.

“They can project power well into the Pacific with a 340-ship navy that includes a new aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines,” he said.

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