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News > World

China Flaunts Buffed Up Navy as Trump Flexes Powers

  • China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea.

    China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 February 2017

China is expected to significantly raise naval spending to prepare for impending conflict with the U.S. head of state.

The People's Liberation Army Navy is likely to secure significant new funding in China's upcoming defense budget as Beijing seeks to check U.S. dominance of the high seas and step up its own projection of power around the globe.

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China is expected to boost defense spending this year after it surprised last year with its lowest spending increase in six years, 7.6 percent, the first single-digit rise since 2010, following a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit jumps.

The decision is believed to be in part a reaction to Trump's increasingly hostile rhetoric.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around "renegade" Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

Now, with President Donald Trump promising a U.S. shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.

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Trump has vowed to increase the U.S. Navy to 350 ships from the current 290 as part of "one of the greatest military buildups in American history," a move aides say is needed to counter China's rise as a military power.

Beijing does not give a breakdown for how much it spends on the navy, and the overall official defense spending figures it gives — US$139 billion for 2016 — likely understates its investment, according to diplomats.

It will unveil the defense budget for this year at next month's annual meeting of parliament.

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