US admiral claims China spends much more on military than reported

The increase in China’s defense spending is concerning given its economy is “failing”, according to the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, who spoke to reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. Speaking at the event, Admiral John Aquilino said China’s economy had been impacted by issues in its real estate sector and asserted that its official growth rates were “not real”. He also said China spends “drastically more” on its military than the 7.2% increase it declared last month. “Despite a struggling economy, there’s a conscious decision to fund military capability. That’s concerning to me,” said Aquilino, who is due to leave his post next month. He also criticized China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South and East China Seas, specifically around the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and Taiwan. “As it applies specifically to Taiwan, I am watching an increasingly aggressive campaign plan of coercion and pressure,” he said. The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A top Chinese military leader told a gathering of senior foreign naval officials this week that China remains committed to resolving maritime disputes with other countries through dialogue but will not allow itself to be “abused”. Aquilino also labeled spending on its military even as the country has grappled with food shortages as “disgusting”. “This is another regime where every bit of economic advance that they may have despite the sanctions are going towards military capability and not to feeding the North Korean people. That’s disgusting,” he said.