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China's 2017 defense budget to grow 7 pct: finance official

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

03-06-2017 19:19 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China's 2017 defense spending is budgeted to grow 7 percent, an official with the Ministry of Finance said Monday.

China's military expenditure will be 1.04 trillion yuan (about 152 billion U.S. dollars), including 1.02 trillion yuan from the central budget, the official said.

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 defense require that defense budget every year be included in the draft report of government budget to be reviewed and approved by national lawmakers, the official explained.

The official told Xinhua that the military spending is in line with China's economic development and defense needs.

"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.

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.

Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the NPC annual session, said Saturday 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.

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

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump asked for a huge 54-billion-U.S. dollar 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 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.