BEIJING — As China’s economy slows, its military budget will rise by 7.6 percent this year, the lowest increase in six years and less than the double-digit increases that have been the norm for years, the government said Saturday at the opening of the country’s annual legislative meeting.
But in comments made ahead of the meeting, Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, gave no sign that Beijing would soften its stance on disputes in the South China Sea, and she renewed China’s warnings to the United States not to intervene there.
“This year, China’s military budget will continue rising, but more slowly compared to the previous few years,” Ms. Fu said at a news conference in Beijing on Friday.
The rise of 7.6 percent was revealed in Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s annual report to the legislature, and it would increase China’s military spending to $146 billion, Xinhua, the state news agency reported.
The last single-digit increase was in 2010, when the military budget grew by 7.5 percent. Last year, the People’s Liberation Army’s official budget grew 10 percent to about $136 billion, and in 2014 it grew 12.2 percent. From 2005 to 2014, China’s official military budget grew an average of 9.5 percent annually, after adjusting for inflation, according to a Pentagon estimate.
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