China to increase military spending by 7% in 2017

Image copyright AP Image caption China said the rise was necessary to "preserve peace and security" in the region

China has said that it will increase military spending by about 7% this year, just days after Donald Trump outlined a boost to the US defence budget.

The scheduled announcement was made ahead of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

China has been rapidly modernising its armed forces in recent years as its economy expands.

However the country's defence budget is still far smaller than that of the US.

The announcement marks the second consecutive year that the increase in China's defence spending has not reached a double-digit percentage rise following nearly two decades at or above 10%.

It means that total spending will account for about 1.3% of the country's projected GDP in 2017, the same level as in recent years, said government spokeswoman Fu Ying.


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Ms Fu said that China's military focus was purely for defence purposes and constituted a force for stability in Asia.

"We advocate dialogue for peaceful resolutions, while at the same time, we need to possess the ability to defend our sovereignty and interests," she said.

"The strengthening of Chinese capabilities benefits the preservation of peace and security in this region, and not the opposite," Ms Fu added.

The precise figure for the country's military spending will be provided by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang when he addresses the NPC on Sunday.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump said he was seeking to boost defence spending by 10% in his proposed budget plan for 2018.

BBC

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