China will lower its defense budget growth rate to 7.5 percent in 2019, from last year’s 8.1 percent, according to a draft budget report to be submitted to the country’s annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) opening Tuesday.
The 2019 defense budget will be 1.19 trillion yuan (about 177.61 billion US dollars), figures from the report show.
The rate marks a fourth straight year for the budgeted growth rate to dip into the single digit since 2016, following five consecutive years of double-digit increases.
China’s budgeted defense spending growth rate stood at 7.6 percent in 2016, 7 percent in 2017, and 8.1 percent in 2018.
Describing China’s defense budget increase as reasonable and appropriate, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the annual session of the 13th NPC, said the raise aims to “meet the country’s demand in safeguarding national security and military reform with Chinese characteristics”, according to China Daily.
He said China always sticks to the path of peaceful development and follows policies that are purely defensive in nature.
“To judge whether a country poses threat to other nations, the key lies in its foreign and defense policies rather than the increase in its defense budget,” Zhang said.