China's 2017 military budget rise slows again

The announcement comes before the Communist Party's annual parliamentary and political meetings in Beijing.

    China's 2017 military budget rise slows again
    China continuing a trend of lowered growth amid a slowing economy [AP]

    Defying pressure for a strong increase in defence spending, China said on Saturday that its military budget this year would grow by about seven percent, its slowest pace since 2010.

    Last year, with the economy slowing, the defence budget recorded its lowest increase in six years, 7.6 percent, the first single-digit rise since 2010 after a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit increases.

    With the administration of new US President Donald Trump planning a 10 percent boost in military spending in 2017, and worries about potential disputes with the US over the South China Sea and the status of Taiwan, some in China had been pressing for a forceful message from this year's defence budget.

    READ MORE: Trump assures Abe over disputed East China Sea islands

    "It's not enough," a source with ties to senior Chinese officers told the Reuters news agency. "A lot of people in the military won't be happy with this."

    China's military build-up has rattled nerves around the region, particularly because Bejing has taken an increasingly assertive stance in its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and over Taiwan, which it claims as its own.

    But there are concerns for China's military, including how to deal with the 300,000 troops President Xi Jinping announced in 2015 would be cut, mainly by the end of 2017.

    Last month, Chinese veterans demonstrated in central Beijing for two consecutive days, demanding unpaid retirement benefits in a new wave of protests highlighting the difficulty in managing demobilised troops.

    "It's not yet certain what is going to happen to these people and the military is clearly hoping for more money to deal with them," one senior Beijing-based Asia diplomat said before this year's defence budget was announced.

    READ MORE: Donald Trump wants 'constructive' ties with China

    A seven percent rise for this year based on last year's budget would bring the figure to 1.02 trillion yuan ($147bn), still only a quarter or so of the US defence budget.

    Graham Ong-Webb, a research fellow at Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told Al Jazeera that China's military spending tended to focus on procurement and on modernising its capabilities.

    "So, even though it's a relatively small amount, this amount is fielding new capabilities for contingencies in the South China Sea," Ong-Webb said.

    The defence spending figures will be published in full on Sunday.

    Inside Story - What does China's increased military spending mean?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.