Both Chinese and American troops have something to celebrate this year: a pay rise.
Guess who’s getting a bigger raise this year?
But US soldiers are getting a significantly smaller increase than their Chinese counterparts.
Beijing has offered an average 6% bump to troops under various branches of the People’s Liberation Army.
In contrast, Americans in uniform were given a 2.4% pay rise starting from January – slightly above inflation.
This marks the second pay bump for the Chinese army since President Xi Jinping announced an ambitious military modernization program in 2015.
The latest rises will be backdated to August last year, according to an internal document seen by the South China Morning Post. New payments will begin to arrive in the soldiers’ bank accounts this month.
Although the raises are higher, Chinese officers still earn much less than those in the US.
After the pay rises, a Chinese major general will take home about $3,640 a month, while a corporal will see their salary rise to about $2,060.
In 2017, US army major generals were paid between $10,200 and $14,600 a month, while corporals took home $2,100-$2,500 a month.
China’s ruling Communist Party has been greatly increasing spending on the world’s biggest armed force.
At the annual parliamentary meeting this month, the leadership unveiled an 8.1% growth in annual defense spending, the largest increase in three years.
The $175 billion budgeted for 2018 will cover not only bigger paychecks, but also advanced training and weaponry such as missiles, stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.
Facing China’s growing military strength, the US Congress in November passed a $700 billion defense policy bill for the 2018 fiscal year, a 13% percent increase from the previous year.
The bill included a 2.4% pay rise for American servicemen and women.
It was only the second time since 2010 that an annual pay rise topped 2%, according to Military Times.
And for Chinese soldiers too, it’s not all good news.
Beijing is in the process of cutting 300,000 troops to create a more nimble fighting force.
A military source said the pay rises were partly offered to comfort those who were due to be laid off.