China's military spending related to „failing economy”, US admiral says | Mighty 790 KFGO

TOKYO (Reuters) – China's surge in defense spending is „about a failure” of its economy, the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Admiral John Aquilino insisted that China's economy was suffering from turmoil in its real estate sector and that its official growth rates were „not realistic”.

He also said China is spending „more” on its military than the 7.2% increase it announced last month.

„Despite the failing economy, there is a conscious decision to fund military capability. That concerns me,” said Aquilino, who is set to leave his post next month.

He criticized China's increasingly aggressive rhetoric and actions in the South and East China Seas, particularly around the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and Taiwan.

„I am observing an increasingly aggressive campaign program of coercion and pressure as this applies particularly to Taiwan,” he said.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

A top Chinese military chief told a meeting of senior foreign naval officers this week that China is committed to resolving maritime disputes with other countries through dialogue, but will not allow itself to be „abused”.

Aquilino branded North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime „disgusting” for spending on its military despite the country's food shortages.

„Despite the sanctions, every bit of economic progress they have is going towards military capability, not feeding the North Korean people. Disgusting,” he said.

(Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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