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Monday, March 6, 2017, 17:49

China's 7% defense budget hike confirmed

By Xinhua

China's 7% defense budget hike confirmed
In this March 21, 2016 photo, a Chinese People's Liberation Army soldier checks a line of an honor guard as they prepare for a welcome ceremony for visiting German President Joachim Gauck outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Andy Wong/ AP)

BEIJING – China's defense spending will grow 7 percent in 2017, an official of the Ministry of Finance said Monday.

The military expenditure will be 1.04 trillion yuan (about US$152 billion), including 1.02 trillion yuan from the central budget, according to the official.

The increase last year was 7.6 percent, breaking a multi-year run of double-digit growth

The figures have been made available in a draft national budget for 2017, which has been submitted to the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the official said.

The military spending is in line with China's economic development and defense needs, added the official.

China's budget law and the law on national defense require the defense budget to be included in the draft report of government budget to be reviewed and approved by the national lawmakers, the official explained.

"The majority of the defense budget will be spent on deepening national defense and military reforms, bolstering military and civilian integration, and improving the living, training and working conditions for service personnel at grassroots levels," the official said.

READ M ORE: Xi calls for strong, modern military logistics

China's defense budget growth this year is the slowest in at least a decade. The increase last year was 7.6 percent, breaking a multi-year run of double-digit growth.

China's 7% defense budget hike confirmed
The military band of Chinese People's Liberation Army performs during the opening meeting of the fifth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2017. (Ju Peng / Xinhua)

Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the NPC annual session, said Thursday that China's defense budget would expand by "about 7 percent."

She added that the defense spending accounted for only about 1.3 percent of the country's GDP, in contrast with NATO members' pledge to dedicate at least 2 percent to defense.

READ MORE: Reform to make PLA more adept, combative

Fu also pointed to the recent US proposition to hike defense spending by 10 percent.

In his government work report delivered on Sunday during the NPC annual session, Premier Li Keqiang said China will strengthen its maritime and air defense as well as border control amid efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and security.

The country will continue to deepen military reforms while upholding the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China over the armed forces, Li said.

It will ensure the organization of important operations related to countering terrorism, safeguarding stability, international peacekeeping, and providing escort in high seas, he continued.

China will enhance its capacity of innovation in defense-related science and technology and step up development of advanced logistics and equipment, Li said, adding that military-civilian integration will be intensified.

In his first address to Congress after taking office last month, US President Donald Trump asked for a huge US$54-billion increase in the country's military spending.

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