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BEIJING: China’s military budget — the second largest in the world after the US — is set to increase by 6.8 percent in 2021, the finance ministry announced Friday. Military tensions have dramatically increased over the past year between China and rival powers including the United States and India, with flashpoints like the Himalayan border, Taiwan and the South China Sea. Beijing plans to spend 1.36 trillion yuan ($210 billion) on defence, which is still less than a third of Washington’s military budget.

The growth rate, up from 2020’s 6.6 percent, was revealed by the ministry at the opening of the government’s annual legislative meetings. In recent years, China has poured trillions of yuan into the modernisation of its military, which it aims to transform into a world-class force rivalling that of the US and other Western powers.