China to hike 2016 defence budget by 7-8 percent

Beijing, March 4 (IANS) China will raise its defence budget by seven to eight percent in 2016, compared with last year’s 10.1 percent, an official said on Friday.

The announcement was made by Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the Fourth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) at a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xinhua news agency reported.

The exact figure will be published on Saturday in a budget report to the session.

A growth rate within the range might be the lowest for years since 2010, when the figure stood at 7.5 percent.

The spokesperson said the raise in 2016 is in line with China’s national defence need and fiscal revenue.

China’s economy expanded 6.9 percent year on year in 2015, the slowest in one fourth a century, weighed down by a property market downturn, falling trade and weak factory activity.

Premier Li Keqiang will unveil the government’s GDP target on Saturday.

The figure is expected to be in a range between 6.5 and 7 percent, compared with the “approximately 7 percent” target announced by Li last year.

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