A draft budget report submitted to the annual session of the National People's Congress on Friday shows China has set its 2020 defense budget at 175 billion U.S. dollars, targeting an increase of 6.6 percent from the previous year.
This exceeds analysts' expectations of a less than three percent increase.
This year's draft defense budget marks the smallest increase in recent years, but considering the economic damage caused by COVID-19, it still shows that China is willing to spend big on military development amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.
"(The) context is that they're stepping up their rivalry in many different respects and I think defense is also a big part of it because of the provocations in the South China Sea recently. And that kind of has implications of butting heads together."
China is also poised to tighten its control of Hong Kong by enacting new security laws aimed at quashing anti-government protests and other dissent.
Beijing sees these laws necessary to protect China from what it calls "external forces" determined to undermine its sovereignty.
The proposal raises the likelihood of more violent demonstrations like those that gripped Hong Kong last year during which the U.S. said it would respond strongly to any crackdown in Hong Kong.
A report to Congress released by the White House earlier this week shows the Trump administration is promising a "competitive approach" towards China that calls for a "fundamental reevaluation of how the U.S. understands and responds" to Chinese leadership.
The report claims Beijing challenges the "bedrock American belief in the unalienable right of every person to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.