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Published: Sun, March 05, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

China's defence spending in 2017 to rise around 7 per cent

China's defence spending in 2017 to rise around 7 per cent

Just days after US President Donald Trump outlined plans to raise American military spending by around 10pc, a spokeswoman for China's parliament told reporters that future Chinese expenditures will depend on US actions in the region.

China's economic growth target for 2017 is expected to be lowered to around 6.5 percent from last year's 6.5-7 percent when Premier Li Keqiang gives his work report to parliament. Last year's proposed growth of 7.6% had been the smallest since 2010.

The country's 2016 economic growth registered a almost three-decade low of 6.7 percent.

"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.

Previous year normally talkative military delegates to parliament largely declined to talk to foreign media about the slowing rate of military spending, saying they had been ordered not to speak to foreign reporters.

The analyst said it is very likely that the United States would use China's defense budget increase as a "pretext" for expanding its activities in the South China Sea.

For countries concerned about China's military might and how it intends to use it, the Vice Minister responded that over the past decades and more the world has experienced crisis, leading to an increase in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and wars, however, none of these sitiations were caused by China.

Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea have been a major source of tension between China and the United States as well as between China and its neighbors.

China also plans to complete the cutting of 300,000 military personnel by the end of the year, shifting the emphasis away from the land forces and toward the navy, air and rocket units.

With troop numbers declining, the 7% increase suggested "funding is still being channeled towards investment in new equipment and the wider process of modernizing" the Chinese military, said Craig Caffrey, an expert on defense budgets at IHS Jane's.

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

China has been spending heavily on technologies, allowing it to project power far from shore, including aircraft carriers, long-range bombers and its first overseas military base located in the East Africa nation of Djibouti.

She added that "strengthening of Chinese capabilities benefits the preservation of peace and security in this region, and not the opposite".

According to data from the World Bank, China's 2016 growth would account for about a third of world growth, larger than the contribution from any other country.

"As to how the situation develops in the future, that depends on USA intentions", Ms. Fu said. "There is a huge gap between China and the USA in capability".

"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.

"China wants common security for all, and this is the shared consensus of many Asian countries as well", she said.

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