The omission highlights the general lack of official data about China’s military, as defence officials in the U.S. and Asia seek more information about Beijing’s strategic intentions. Calls for more transparency are likely to intensify as President Xi Jinping seeks to build a “world-class” military capable of projecting force further from China’s borders.
“China is committed to a path of peaceful development and China pursues a defence policy that is defensive in nature,” Zhang said. “China’s development will not pose a threat to other countries.”
China’s “lack of transparency about its growing military capabilities and strategic decision-making continue to cause concern among countries in the region,” the Pentagon wrote in its report on the country’s military last year. Unlike China, the U.S. provides a breakdown of spending between the army, navy, air force and other units.
Besides approving the defence budget, NPC deputies are also expected to appoint Xi to a second term as president and repeal constitutional term limits requiring him to step down in 2023. The amendment may give Xi more time to advance a pledge in October to complete China’s restoration as a global power by the mid-century mark.