China's 2017 defence budget to grow 7%

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, March 6 (IANS) China's 2017 defence spending is budgeted to grow 7 per cent, a Finance Ministry official said on Monday.

China's military expenditure will be 1.04 trillion yuan ($152 billion), including 1.02 trillion yuan from the central budget, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying.

The figures can be found in a draft national budget for 2017, which has been submitted to the current annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the official said.

China's budget law and the law on national defence require that defence budget every year be included in the draft report of government budget to be reviewed and approved by national lawmakers, the official said.

The official said the military spending was in line with China's economic development and defence needs.

"The majority of the defence budget will be spent on deepening defence 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.

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

Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the NPC annual session, said on Thursday that China's defence budget would expand by "about 7 per cent".

She said the defence spending accounted for only about 1.3 per cent of the country's GDP, in contrast with NATO members' pledge to dedicate at least 2 per cent to defence.

Fu also pointed to the recent US proposition to hike defence spending by 10 per cent.

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