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China Confirms 2017 Defense Budget Increase

By March 6, 2017 at 5:20 am
China has announced a 7 percent increase for its defense budget (Photo : China Photos/Getty Images)

China has announced that it will be expanding its 2017 defense budget by 7 percent. This was confirmed by Fu Ying, a spokesperson for the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) annual session, on Saturday.

"China's military capacity building will be continued," Fu said. "This is the requirement for safeguarding our national sovereignty and security."

The new increase marks China's slowest defense budget rise in at least 10 years. Last year, its defense budget rose by 7.6 percent to 954 billion yuan, which is about 138 billion USD. This broke a multi-year run of double-digit increases.

The country's economic growth last year registered a nearly 30-year low of 6.7 percent. This rate, though, still outpaced other major economies.

The government's GDP target for 2017 was unveiled by Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday. Fu added that China's defense budget in the recent years has been aligned with the country's economic development and defense needs.

Major General Chen Zhou agreed with Fu, saying that the defense budget increase is reasonable and moderate. "A rise of about 7 percent in the defense budget is basically in keeping with last year's GDP output," Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo of the People's Liberation Army Navy noted.

It was noted that China's defense budget is only a quarter of the United States' budget, even with the 7 percent increase. However, several experts believe that it is actually spending more on the military than the officially announced figure.

China has been aggressive in upgrading its military hardware. Even so, it has encountered challenges to the integration of complex systems across its regionalized command structure. The reforms aim to address these problems.

Other concerns about China's military include how to deal with the 300,000 troops which will be cut by the end of this year. This was announced by President Xi Jinping back in 2015.

Fu noted that China aims to have dialogue and peaceful solutions in addressing disputes with other countries. At the same time, though, it wants to be able to defend its sovereignty, rights, and interests.

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