The increase in China’s military budget will be much lower than earlier speculations, which put the figure at more than 20 percent, according to the spokeswoman for the annual session of the top legislature on Friday.
“This year we will continue to increase our military spending, but the rate of increase will be lower compared with those of the past several years,” said Fu Ying at a news briefing. “The rise this year will stand between 7 and 8 percent,” she said, one day before the opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
The exact figure is expected to be released in a draft budget report on Saturday, when the NPC convenes.
If Fu’s remarks turn out to be accurate, the figure would be the lowest since 2010, when China’s military spending grew by 7.5 percent from the previous year.
China’s defense budget rose by 10.1 percent last year.
With last year’s budget standing at $ 144 billion, an increase of 7 to 8 percent would take defense spending for this year to between $ 154 billion and $ 155 billion — less than onethird of what the US is proposing to spend this year, according to media reports. Fu said that the military spending increase is in line with national defense needs, the economic situation and fiscal revenue.
Major General Chen Zhou, director of the National Defense Policy Research Center of the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Science, told China Daily that the
military budget is made in light of the Law on National Defense, and there are no so- called invisible budget items.
Each year the national law- makers review and scrutinize the military budget, so it is impossible for invisible budget items to exist, said Chen, who also is a lawmaker.
“The PLA is conducting its affairs in an unprecedentedly confident, open and transpar- ent way,” Chen added.
The lower rise in the military budget represents the government’s effort to strike a balance between economic growth and defense outlays.
It also reflects China’s commitment to peaceful develop- ment, according to Chen.
China’s economy expanded by 6.9 percent last year, the slowest rate in 25 years, weighed down by a property market slowdown, falling foreign trade and a weak manufacturing sector.