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China’s defense budget shows Xi’s priority because the economy is getting tighter

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China convenes parliament meeting delayed by pandemic

2020 will mark the first time in decades that China has not set growth targets for its economy. Last year, Beijing targeted growth in the range of 6% to 6.5%. GDP grew 6.1%, the slowest pace in almost 30 years.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic and weeks of economic shutdown in much of China. GDP shrank 6.8% in the first quarter, the first contraction reported by Beijing since 1976.

When the economy contracts, external pressure is increasing.

The US military is increasing challenges to Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, including Back-to-back naval navigation freedom training in April and B-1 bomber flight, which is the heaviest in the US Air Force inventory, is from Guam and the US mainland.

And when the spending figures for 2020 were announced last Friday, Beijing’s priorities were immediately clear.

The military’s share of pain – the increase in its budget is the lowest in decades – but the PLA’s pain is small compared to the blows given to other areas of the Chinese government.

For example, the budget fell 13.3% for general public services, down 11.8% for foreign affairs, down 7.5% for education and 9.1% for science and technology.

“The proposed budget shows Beijing feels insecure and under siege,” said Timothy Heath, senior researcher at the RAND Corp think tank. in Washington.

“The strong increase in spending reflects strong anxiety about deepening tensions with China’s main competitors, the United States, as well as fading hopes for a peaceful union with Taiwan,” Heath said.

“Beijing also has many reasons for increasing defense and security spending to manage this escalating problem domestic chaos in Hong Kong, in the western provinces, or throughout the country due to soaring unemployment and slackening growth due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “

Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, said Beijing’s defense budget is appropriate for now.

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“It can be said that the world is not peaceful,” Qian said on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress this week.

“China’s internal security and foreign interests also face some real threats …

“It is reasonable and necessary that Chinese defense spending increases moderately and steadily,” Wu said.

Compare with US

Beijing also touted an increase in the military budget as the smallest in several years, and said the overall amount was a fraction of the money spent by some foreign militaries.

In fact, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, said at a press conference last week that “China’s total defense spending in 2019 is only a quarter of the world’s largest defense expenditure.

The biggest defense expenditure is the United States, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

IISS figures were released in February shows the US spent $ 686 billion on defense in 2019 compared to $ 181 billion by China, number 2 in the IISS world ranking.
But subsequent studies by analysts at IISS and the Washington-based Heritage Foundation say the gap between the US and Chinese military budgets may be as small as 13%.

And when you look at the progress that the Chinese military has made since Xi became President in 2013, the huge gap between the Chinese and American military budgets defies credibility:

– Only in recent years, China has implemented it the first aircraft carrier to be built domestically, Shandong;
– made it J-20 stealth fighter – seen as a challenge for US F-22 and F-35 fighters – ready for combat;
– Increase it a ballistic missile submarine fleet, both with new ships and better missiles in it;
– open it first foreign military base in the African country of Djibouti;
– and building a series of islands in the South China Sea that US Admiral Philip Davidson, the main US commander in Indo-Pacifc, called the “Great Wall of SAM,” or a series of surface-to-air missile bases could make the sky over a very hostile area for any enemy air force.

Lack of transparency

All this costs a lot of money, but in the case of Beijing it is often difficult to see where it came from, analysts said.

“Defense budget data available from Beijing … experiences three different problems: lack of transparency, known and unreliable negligence,” writes Frederico Bartels, a Heritage Foundation researcher, in an April paper was released in The Strategist, website of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Bartels came up with a 13% difference between the US and Chinese defense budgets after analyzing everything from currency rates to labor costs across China.

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He told CNN any defense figures coming out of China must be treated with skepticism because Beijing did not specify specifically where the money was flowing or based on what budget might be allocated.

Bartels gave an example of a new aircraft carrier built in the US versus China.

In the US, the government will declare the price paid to independent contractors to build aircraft carriers. But in China, state-run companies will build warships and only be responsible to Beijing.

Money for new aircraft carriers can be transferred to the company under one of many accounts, not necessarily related to warships.

In the end, outside observers really don’t know what the price of this ship is.

“That’s the kind of game they can play with state-owned companies,” Bartels said.

Police and coast guard troops

Inheritance researchers and IISS analysis also show that other parts of China’s defense formation, such as the growing coast guard, do not see at least a portion of their expenses included in the military budget.

According to the IISS study, the budget for the People’s Armed Police (PAP), which is assigned to law enforcement, border defense and internal security, actually decreases when a large coast guard fleet is under PAP control in 2018.

“This will show that (Chinese Coast Guard) expenditure remains a cost related to extra-budget defense and must be added to China’s total defense spending figures,” said the IISS study.

Meanwhile, the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows this annual expenditure figures published by China’s Ministry of Finance and Defense off as much as $ 3 billion.

To enter that number in hardware terms, about three Sophisticated Beijing Type 55 Wreckers, key linchpin in the country’s naval buildup.

The buildup has become part of Xi Jinping’s military modernization that aims to make the PLA at least equal to the United States military in Asia.

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And with the progress made since Xi came to power in 2013 – and especially since he reorganized the Central Military Commission aiming for corruption in 2017 – clearly Beijing will not agree to weakening the PLA.

Bartels said the budget sent a strong message from Xi to the PLA that “we really appreciate what the People’s Liberation Army is doing, and we want to be able to protect them even in less positive economic times.”

Steven Jiang and Laura He from CNN contributed to this report.

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The future of the oceans is in the hands of the youth

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The future of the oceans is in the hands of the youth

“It’s in the hands of the young protect the planet and especially oceans“That was the main message. Youth and Innovation Forum during United Nations Ocean Conferenceon the beach of Carcavelos, Portugal.

The presence on the beach of actor Jason Momoa, known for his roles in Aquaman and the TV series Game of Thrones, is intended to convey to the younger generation the importance of combating climate change.

At the end of this meeting, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa issued a warning: “To be heard and to be important in the climate or in the oceans, they must fight and win in your name. be your main allies, but not the majority.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres gave a speech about my guilt. “Let me start with the words of the President of Portugal to apologize on behalf of my generation to your generation in connection with the state of the oceans, the state of biodiversity and the state of climate change,” António Guterres said.

The Oceans Conference will be held in Lisbon until the end of this week and will be attended by Heads of State and Government from all continents.

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal – Observer

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal - Observer

Portuguese driver Thiago Monteiro (Honda) finished 14th and 15th this Sunday in the two World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) races held in Aragon, Spain, which precede the Vila Real race.

The Portuguese rider always rode in the tail, he was hindered by the fact that Honda had more excess weight than his rivals.

“If they told me that I would be in this position, I would not believe it. But the reality is that we have not been able to withstand a number of adversities. From the moment when the pace is much lower than other rivals, we are prepared in advance. It’s heartbreaking,” the Portuguese rider began his explanation after the fourth round of the championship.

The Portuguese rider struggled to find the best balance in his Civic, as did his teammate, Hungarian Attila Tassi.

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“We still had problems, and we could not reach the full potential of the car. It was very difficult, unpleasant and discouraging, especially since we are going to Vila Real and this scenario does not suit me. But we will have to continue to look for our own path and believe that everything will work out, ”Thiago Monteiro concluded.

Belgian Giles Magnus (Audi) and Spaniard Mikel Ascona (Hyundai) won both races on Sunday.

Ascona leads the league with 129 points, while Thiago Monteiro is 16th with 12 points.

The WTCR competition in Portugal will take place next weekend in Vila Real.

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

This Sunday, Portuguese cyclist João Almeida (UAE-Emirates) became the Portuguese champion in cross-country cycling for the first time, winning the elite national championships held in Mogaduro.

In his first online race since Joao Almeida was forced to pull out of the Vuelta Italia after testing positive for the coronavirus, he won his first national title since becoming time trial champion in 2021.

Almeida crossed the finish line in Mogadora, covering the 167.5 km distance in 4:08.42 hours, 52 seconds behind Thiago Antunes (Efapel) second, Fabio Costa (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) third, and Rui Oliveira (UAE). – Emirates), fourth.

In the end, João Almeida stated that he was “very pleased” with the victory, admitting that the race “went very well” and thanking his teammates.

Former national champion José Neves (W52-FC Porto) did not finish the race, as did Rafael Reis (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) who won the time trial title on Friday.

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