China stands by economic data, says defence spending ‘transparent’

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 11:22 PM

By Liz Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – China defended the veracity of its economic numbers and asserted its military spending was “transparent and reasonable”, while dismissing as “typical double standards” comments made this week by the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

In March, China said it would boost defence spending by 7.2% this year, with an allocation of 1.55 trillion yuan ($214 billion), slightly outpacing last year’s increase and swifter than the government’s modest economic growth forecast.

In his remarks on Tuesday, U.S. Admiral John Aquilino said China’s economy had been battered by turmoil in the real estate sector and its official growth rates were “not real”.

He flagged the defence spending hike as cause for concern, given the “failing” economy.

Responding to a request for comment on Aquilino’s remarks, the foreign ministry told Reuters, “The release of China’s economic data has always been open and transparent, and is highly recognised by society.”

It added that authoritative international financial bodies, such as the Asian Development Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had raised their expectations for growth this year after China’s first-quarter economic data, signalling confidence.

“China’s defence spending is open, transparent and reasonable,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

China actively participates in the United Nations military expenditure transparency system and submits timely reports on military expenditures, it added.

Higher defence spending is needed to tackle security challenges and safeguard China’s legitimate interests, as well as better fulfilling the international responsibilities and obligations of a great power, the ministry said.

It compared China’s spending with the United States’ rank as the top military spender globally, accusing the United States of having double standards when it comes to military expenditure.

($1=7.2467 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)