China said on Saturday that it will increase its defence spending by “around seven per cent” this year, as it vowed to guard against “outside meddling” in its territorial disputes.
The increase in defence spending was announced by Fu Ying, the spokesperson of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), ahead of its annual meeting.
China will raise its defence budget by around 7 per cent this year, Fu said.
She said China’s defence spending will remain around 1.3 per cent of the country’s GDP.
“We call for a peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation (of the disputes). At the same time we need the ability to safeguard our sovereignty and interests and rights,” Fu said.
“In particular, we need to guard against outside meddling in the disputes,” she said.
Fu, however, did not elaborate on what “meddling” she was referring to and also did not mention the disputes in question.China’s claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea have caused a lot of concern in the region.
Last year, China increased its defence spending by 7.6 per cent, allocating about 954 billion yuan (around USD 143.7 billion), the lowest increase in six years.
China’s announcement to increase defence spending comes after US President Donald Trump vowed a 10 per cent increase in America’s military spending.
The 10 per cent proposed increase for the US defence budget of about USD 600 billion was expected to add another USD 54 billion to it.
Much of China’s defence budget was expected to go for the development of the navy.
The increase in China’s military expenditure, especially for the navy, is aimed at safeguarding the country’s fast expanding overseas interests and is in response to the unstable security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese military experts were quoted as saying by the state-run Global Times last week.
Chu Yin, associate professor at the University of International Relations, said, China’s rapid military development is a recurrent trend with the country’s rising economic power, and is entirely legitimate and reasonable.
“It doesn’t need Trump as an excuse,” he told the daily.