Although China's economic growth is slowing down, ordinary Chinese people hope the country can announce a steady increase in its defense budget during the annual plenary session of the National People's Congress, which is scheduled to start on Tuesday.
One netizen suggested on Sina Weibo over the weekend that without a strong defense capability, such tasks as the Belt and Road Initiative or the internationalization of the yuan will be hard to achieve. Not many netizens are rational economists or politicians, but chatter on the internet may offer insights into views that circulate within Chinese society.
If China raises its defense budget at a pace that is faster than its GDP growth rate, that will be in line with many Chinese citizens' expectations.
China's defense budget is the world's second highest, but the country's military power isn't the second-strongest in the world. Its military expenditures remain far lower than levels in other major countries in terms of the percentage of the defense budget in GDP or government revenue, as well as the average per capita defense expenditure.
China's military spending is not in proportion to its economic growth and security needs. The Chinese military must have enough money to make up for missed lessons and modernize its troops.
China is witnessing a boom in outbound investment. The more overseas projects Chinese companies develop, the more security concerns they will face. As China has stepped into the frontline of international affairs, it must speed up its national defense power to protect the legitimate interests of Chinese people. The international environment now is more complicated than before. Ordinary Chinese people are in favor of a rise in the defense budget, because they hope China can build a strong national defense force to provide them with protection.
We hope China's defense budget growth can be higher than its GDP expansion in 2019. China's economic slowdown is a fact, but the economy remains dynamic. Government revenue will continue to increase in 2019. The country has sufficient resources to support a higher defense budget.
Military equipment and technology are being updated more quickly than ever, and this process is getting more expensive as prices of materials rise in China.
It is reasonable for China to increase its defense budget at a faster pace to maintain the combat capability of the People's Liberation Army.
The country needs to boost the development of technology for military drones, satellite navigation and positioning, long-range radar detection and some other military technologies. Conversely, technical innovation will also promote China's economic growth.
(The author is a reporter with the Global Times. email@example.com)