China's Defense Budget to Go Up About 7% in 2017

Last year, the defense budget grew by 7.6 percent, according to data from industry analysts IHS Jane's, following several years of double-digit growth.

Total defense spending would account for about 1.3 percent of projected gross domestic project in 2017, said Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the legislature.

She also added that the Session will take forward the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the CPC Central Committee, and implement tenets of policy addresses of General Secretary Xi Jinping and his new visions, thoughts and strategies on governance.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to announce Sunday, during remarks to the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, that the country will boost its defense budget by 7 percent.

Fu reiterated China's contention that its military was purely for defense 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", Ms Fu said. "The strengthening of Chinese capabilities benefits the preservation of peace and security in this region, and not the opposite".

China says its defense budget will increase by about 7 percent this year, marking the second year in a row China has kept its military spending to a single digit percentage increase. It would mark a 10% rise than the previous year, if his budget plan is approved by the US Congress.

China is sensitive to criticism of its defense spending, especially from the U.S.

Last year, China increased its defence spending by 7.6 per cent, allocating about 954 billion yuan (around Dollars 143.7 billion), the lowest increase in six years. By 2025, China would outspend all other states in the Asia-Pacific combined, the consultancy predicted.

With Donald Trump proposing a 10% jump in United States military spending in 2017, and worries about potential disputes with America over the South China Sea and the status of Taiwan, some in China had been pressing for a forceful message from this year's defense budget. "China has never brought any harm to any countries".

"Probably fundamentally the United States is concerned that China may catch up with the United States in terms of capability, but we are a developing country".

Wang Guoqing, for his part, said China's 13th Five-Year Plan launched in 2016 has made a good start to make the country's economic development inclusive.

Fu dismissed concerns about China's military.

Taiwan's defense ministry expects China to continue to strengthen its military, spokesman Chen Chung-chi told Reuters, while a senior official at Japan's defense ministry said the spending rise was still large and lacked transparency.

Trump, himself, managed to ruffle feathers in Beijing by speaking with President Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan following his election win in November. The announcement is seen to be a hardening of its position on disputed islands in the South China Sea and has stirred alarm in the region and in Washington. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year.

"As to how to the situation develops in future, that depends on U.S. intentions. The most ideal is 12 per cent", Hongguang said as quoted by The South China Morning Post.

  • Eleanor Harrison