China's defence budget to grow 7%

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, March 6 (IANS) China's 2017 defence spending will 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).

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 explained.

He 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 national defence and military reforms, bolstering military and civilian integration, and improving the living, training and working conditions for service personnel at grassroots levels."

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, on Saturday said 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 $54 billion increase in the country's military spending in his first address to Congress after taking office.

In his government work report delivered on Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the country will strengthen its maritime and air defence 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 organisation of important operations related to countering terrorism, safeguarding stability, international peacekeeping, and providing escort in high seas, he said.

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

--IANS

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