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China says it will increase its defence budget by 7% in 2017, lowest hike since 2010

China will raise its defence budget by about 7% this year, a government spokesperson said on Saturday, continuing a trend of lowered growth amid a slowing economy.

world Updated: Mar 04, 2017 19:45 IST
China defence budget,China defence,China military
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade in Beijing, China.(Reuters File Photo)

China has increased its defence budget by 7% for 2017, the lowest increase in seven years and second year in row that the hike was below the double digit mark.

In real terms, the defence budget of the world’s largest armed forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is likely to be close to the $ 145 billion-mark

China’s 2016 defence budget was around 954.35 billion Yuan ($138.40 billion) and much smaller compared to that of the US, which announced a 10% increase in its defence outlay earlier this week.

Reports say that China understates its defence expenditure, which is closely followed around the world, especially by its neighbours with many of whom Beijing has maritime disputes.

The announcement was made Saturday in the run-up to the beginning of China’s rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Sunday when Premier Li Keqiang will release the actual numbers.

Fu Ying, spokesperson for the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) annual session, said the increase is in line with China’s economic development and defense needs.

The country’s defense budget rose by 7.6% in 2016.

“The fresh raise could be the country’s slowest defense budget rise in more than a decade, and mark the second time that defense budget dip to single-digit increase since 2010. In 2009, the figure was about 15%,” official news agency, Xinhua reported

US. President Donald Trump last month proposed a $ 54-billion hike in the country’s military spending, up 10% from the previous year.

Fu said China’s defense spending accounts for about 1.3% of the country’s gross domestic product, as compared with NATO members’ pledge to dedicate at least 2% of GDP to defense.

“You should ask them what their intentions are,” Fu said at Saturday’s press conference.

Last year, China’s finance ministry had said that the reduced hike was in line with the country’s economic slowdown

“We will support efforts to deepen the reform of national defence and the amed forces and strengthen the military in all respects so that its more revolutionary, modern and standardised. We will promote integrated development of the economy and national defence,” the finance ministry had said last year.

“For many Chinese, the first response was a bit of disappointment. But we believe the decision has its reasons. The Chinese economy has been under grave downward pressure. GDP growth was 6.9% last year, the lowest in years. It makes sense that the budget matches economic growth,” the nationalistic Global Times newspaper had said in an editorial last year.

First Published: Mar 04, 2017 10:50 IST