Published: Mon, March 06, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

China's 2017 defence budget to rise 7pc

China's 2017 defence budget to rise 7pc

"In the past year, China's development has faced grave challenges posed by a great many problems and interwoven risks and dangers both at home and overseas", Li said in his annual state-of-the-nation speech to the National People's Congress (NPC).

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 defence budget.

Over the past four years, a set of approaches for China's development have been raised, including the concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, the market's decisive role in resource allocation, the "new normal", and supply-side structural reform.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came under attack on social media as he jogged in China's capital previous year as the air pollution index was well into the hazardous zone at about 15 times of the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Though foreign experts maintain that China dramatically understates its figures, the United States still spends far more on defense, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of gross domestic product.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have contested Beijing's claims.

Trump has signalled support for Taiwan - which Beijing claims as its own - and opposition to the expanding Chinese presence in the South China Sea, though the USA rhetoric has softened lately.

The new defense budget from China comes despite the country's rapid ongoing military modernization and expansion, especially for the People's Liberation Army-Navy, and ongoing tensions in the East and South China Seas. Fu also said the percentage of GDP China spends on defence is below the 2 per cent the USA calls on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to spend.

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

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

China's stock market regulator says this year's priority is to tighten oversight and eliminate risky trading. "In particular, we need to guard against outside forces intervening in these disputes".

Experts suggest that Trump's combative stance toward Beijing could have a significant impact on relations between the two countries, which together have the world's biggest economies and largest militaries.

The THAAD commitment continues despite Chinese anger over the deployment, which it sees as antithetical to its security interests in the region.

Additionally, China is now the world's largest trading nation, so the country is heavily reliant on free trade, and the world also needs to trade with China, Chu said.

China's Defense Ministry has said it is monitoring the ongoing Vinson-led operations - the first in the waterway under the Trump administration.

Li said China would "resolutely oppose" any moves towards Taiwan independence, a possible coded message to US President Donald Trump. "The most ideal is 12 percent", Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, a retired deputy commander of the former Nanjing Military Command, told the South China Morning post on Friday.

The finance ministry's budget report said that the government would support efforts to build a "solid national defense and strong armed forces that are commensurate with China's worldwide standing" and "ensure that adequate funds are available to promote further military-civilian development".

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