BEIJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- China will raise its defense budget by around 10 percent this year, compared with last year's 12.2 percent, a spokeswoman for the annual session of the country's top legislature said Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference a day ahead of the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), Fu Ying said the exact figure will be published in a draft budget report Thursday.
"I can give you a rough idea. The recommended growth rate for national defense in the draft 2015 budget report is about 10 percent," Fu said.
"To tell the truth, there is still a gap between China's armed forces [and foreign counterparts] in terms of overall military equipment. We still need more time," she said, adding that capital support is needed for the modernization of China's national defense and its army.
China's defense budget rose by 12.2 percent last year, riding on a multi-year run of double-digit increases.
A growth rate of about 10 percent could be the lowest in five years.
Fu said as a big country, China needs an army that can safeguard its national security and people.
"Lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks. That is a lesson we have learned from history," she said.
"Compared with major countries in the world, the road to China's defense modernization is indeed a difficult one," Fu noted. "We have to rely on ourselves for most of our military equipment and research. Sometimes we have to do these from the very beginning," she said.
The spokeswoman nonetheless noted that China's defense policy is defensive in nature, which is "clearly defined in the country's Constitution."
China's past achievements in reform and opening up come not from "cannons and warships" but from mutually-beneficial cooperation, Fu said, adding that China will stick to the path of peaceful development.