On the occasion of the opening of the annual session of China's National People's Congress (NPC), the published budget report establishes an annual budget of 1,5537 trillion yuan, or €210 billion, an increase of 7,2% from the 2022 budget of 1,450 trillion yuan, and while this same report anticipates growth of 5% for the Chinese economy for 2023. According to the numerous declarations of Chinese officials around this increase, it would remain reasonable in the face of the $ 830 billion budget of the United States , and while all the states in Europe and Asia are significantly increasing their own investments. However, and even if it remains perfectly true that China will only spend 2023% of its GDP on Defense in 1,5, far from the 3,7% American or even the 2% recommended by NATO, Beijing will have seen its spending on mittens almost double since 2013, and grow by more than 30% over the last 4 years alone, with an average annual increase of 7%.
Since the beginning of the 90s and the start of 30 years of very strong economic growth, and while its GDP rose from $360 billion in 1990 to $17,950 billion in 2022, Beijing has never "overplayed" its defense effort. , with an average and constant increase of around 7% per year, allowing the latter to increase from $10 billion in 1990 to $210 billion in 2023, while at the same time, for comparison, the budget US defense went from $325 billion to $830 billion, and the French budget from $30 billion to $56 billion. In fact, and in spite of a defense effort which fell significantly in relation to GDP, falling from more than 3% to 1,5% due to the very strong growth of the Chinese economy over the past 30 years, the budget of the Chinese armies, meanwhile, grew proportionally 7 times faster than the United States budget, and more than 10 times faster than the French or Japanese budget, the latter having increased from $30 billion to $60 billion between 1990 and 2023.
Beyond the immediate comparisons of defense budgets and efforts between China and its main geopolitical competitors, it is appropriate, in order to take into consideration the current dynamics, to add several indicators to the analysis grid. First, Chinese growth significantly exceeds that of the United States, so that according to projections, Chinese GDP will exceed United States GDP between the end of this decade and the middle of the next, even if international trade with Beijing were to decline, the Chinese economy could now rely largely on its domestic consumption to generate its own growth. Secondly, and as shown by the Chinese defense effort today, which represents only 1,5% of its GDP, the Chinese authorities have a large budgetary reserve that can be mobilized to increase defense spending if necessary, all the more so as the country has very little debt, unlike Western countries. Finally, and this is far from negligible, Chinese defense industries now produce equipment that is perfectly up to standard with Western equipment from a technological point of view, while being considerably cheaper, on the order of 30% compared to - vis-à-vis European equipment, and 50% vis-à-vis American equipment, while a Chinese soldier costs, on average, 3 times less than a European soldier in a professional army like France.
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