China said on Saturday it will raise military spending by 7.6 percent this year, its lowest increase in six years, but vowed to protect its maritime rights amid disputes in the East and South China Seas and improve intelligence gathering.
The 954.35 billion yuan ($146.67 billion) figure is only around a quarter of the U.S. Defense Department budget for 2016 of $573 billion, but comes at a time of rising concern over China’s intentions in territorial disputes.
The increase is the first single-digit rise since 2010, following a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit jumps, and comes as China’s economy slows.
It was announced on Saturday at the start of the annual meeting of parliament, but had been flagged by an official who gave a rough figure the previous day.
President Xi Jinping is seeking to drag the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest armed forces, into the modern age, cutting 300,000 jobs and revamping its Cold War-era command structure. Read More