China to increase 2018 defense budget by 8.1 percent

Updated 2018-03-05 09:12:02 Xinhua

Naval aviators and a shipboard helicopter stand by on the helipad of the Mianyang frigate following captain's orders. (Photo/81.cn)

China will raise its defense budget by 8.1 percent in 2018, according to a budget report to be submitted to the national legislature Monday, up from last year's 7 percent.[Special coverage]

The 2018 defense budget will be 1.11 trillion yuan (175 billion U.S. dollars), according to the report available to media before the first session of the 13th National People's Congress opens Monday morning.

Although slightly higher than the previous two years, the growth rate is the third time to dip into the single digit since 2013, following 7.6 percent in 2016 and 7 percent in 2017.

China's defense budget takes up a smaller share of its gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure compared with other major countries, said Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the first annual session of the 13th NPC, at a press conference on Sunday.

Its military spending per capita is also lower than other major countries, Zhang said.

"A large part of the growth of the defense budget is to make up for the low military spending in the past and is mainly used to upgrade equipment and improve the welfare of servicemen and women and the living and training conditions of grassroots troops," he said.

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