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China to raise defence budget by seven percent in 2017

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China's Peoples Liberation Army soldiers

Last year, the country's defense budget rose by 7.6 percent to 954 billion yuan (about 138 billion USA dollars), breaking a multi-year run of double-digit increases.

Premier Li Keqiang will announce the precise figure for the country's military spending when he addresses the National People's Congress.

Fu said the defense figure - which compared with last year's 7.6 percent hike - will account for around 1.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Lu believes that a four-pronged strategy - moderately prosperous society, all-around in-depth reform, promoting rule of law and strict CPC discipline that has been implemented under Xi leadership placed China as the world's second largest economy next to the United States.

The 10 per cent proposed increase for the United States defence budget of about Dollars 600 billion was expected to add another USD 54 billion to it. "China has spent several billions of U.S. dollar to build artificial islands in the South China Sea for military goal, but the funding was categorised as Hainan province's local development", Chang said.

"A rise of about 7 percent in defense budget is basically in keeping with last year's GDP output", said Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

Ms Fu dismissed concerns that China posed a threat to the region with its expanding military.

Mr. Caffrey said the increase was likely to more than match growth in military spending in all other Asia Pacific countries combined in 2017.

India and other neighbors of China have reasons to be anxious because a portion of the increase in defence expenditure would go to the navy which is enhancing its capabilities in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

A 7 percent rise for this year based on last year's budget would bring the figure to 1.02 trillion yuan, still only a quarter or so of the USA defense budget.

However, analysts say China's moderate growth of its military budget is more a reflection of its slowing economy than an attempt to appear non-aggressive on the worldwide scene.

"Of all the conflicts and wars in the world that have killed and displaced so many people and caused significant loss of property, which one is China to blame for?" she asked.

"In particular, we need to guard against outside meddling in the disputes", she said.

The combined spending of the next 14 countries with the highest military spending in the world - which includes Russian Federation, the UK, Saudi Arabia and China - comes to $664bn. The South China Sea, a waterway of strategic importance, has been at the center of tensions between multiple nations contesting waterway and offshore resources.

"As to the future development [of the settlement of these disputes], I think we also need to take into account the intentions on the USA side", she said, calling the United States' actions in the South China Sea a "weather vane" for the region.

"As to how to the situation develops in future, that depends on USA intentions".

China maintains that the United States has no place in the dispute and regularly accuses the US government of "meddling" in Asian affairs.

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