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She said the PLA faced daunting tasks in protecting China's territorial sovereignty and maintaining regional security, and preventing foreign forces from intervening in the South China Sea disputes.

Furthermore, in her opening remarks at the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress, which held yesterday, 4th of March 2017, the Vice Foreign Minister announced that the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) will officially commence tomorrow morning.

The East Asian country has typically pursued a policy of double-digit increases in its budget since 2010, but reversed that past year when it increased its spending by 7.6%, according to state officials.

China's parliament on Saturday announced the country will increase its military spending by 7 percent in 2017.

Gen. Wang Hongguang, a retired deputy commander of the former Nanjing Military Command, called for a 12 percent increase of the Chinese defense budget in view of USA defense spending plans.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will announce China's economic growth target on Sunday.

For most of the past 15 years, China's defence budget has grown by double digits annually, reflecting the country's economic growth. "The strengthening of China's [military] capabilities help preserve peace and stability in the region, not the opposite".

Trump then publicly questioned United States support for the one-China policy, alongside constant criticism of China's currency tactics, threats to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, and bluster over China's military build-up in the South China Sea - all of which are believed to have reinforced the concerns of the nation's top leaders who prize stability and predictability as top priorities. With Beijing pressing its maritime claims in the South China Sea, including building military infrastructure on man-made islands, its plans are closely watched.

"There was a view that China would increase its defence budget in line with the rise of the defence budget in the United States", he said.

Ms. Fu said recent talks with China's neighbors had eased those tensions, a position Beijing has repeated often in recent weeks as Mr. Trump has suggested he will take a tougher approach toward Beijing on trade and territorial issues.

Barthelemy Courmont, a senior Research Fellow at the Paris-based French Institute for worldwide and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) said it was understandable that a modernising China would seek more advanced armed forces. The budget grew by 7.6 percent previous year and 10.1 percent in 2015. "But in fact there is a still a huge gap in ability between the US and China, which is still a developing country".

A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week downplayed Trump's vow to give the USA military a $54 billion boost, saying only that China hoped United States plans would benefit stability.

Recent satellite imagery indicates China is completing structures meant to house surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) on a series of such artificial landmasses, the Washington think-tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said last week.

China's economy is expected to remain the strongest engine for world economic growth in 2017, a spokesperson of the top political advisory body said Thursday. "We must not give Trump an excuse to accuse China of currency manipulation", Yu said.

Fu turned those accusations back on the USA, saying the strategically vital waterway through which about $5 trillion in trade passes each year was basically calm.

The new increase could be the country's slowest defense budget rise in at least a decade.

Future trends in the region "will depend on USA intentions vis-a-vis the region and U.S. activities (which) to a certain extent set the barometer for the situation here", Fu said.


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