Beijing, March 6 (IANS) China is set to increase military spending by 7 per cent this year, its lowest increase in over two decades, the government announced on Monday.
In 2016, the government increased military spending by 7.6 per cent, its lowest increase in six years, and by 10.1 per cent the previous year, Efe news reported.
The defence budget will account for 1.3 per cent of China's GDP and will rise to 1.04 trillion yuan (around $151 billion), according to the finance ministry.
The budget was presented during the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, which took place on Sunday.
On the eve of the opening ceremony, the spokesperson of the NPC session had said the increase would be around 7 per cent and the figure was expected to be confirmed on the first day of the plenary session, but for the first time in decades, China broke this tradition.
In his opening address on Sunday, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced - without mentioning an exact amount - more support to the army, and added that the country will strengthen its air and maritime defence as well as border controls to safeguard its national interests and security.
Li also reaffirmed the government's commitment to the reform of the armed forces, aimed at modernising the outfit and reducing troops by 300,000 by the end of this year.