China's defence spending to accelerate in 2018

Li said a steady rise in import and export volumes can be expected this year a view unchanged from a year ago. No export target was given for the third straight year

China has announced a military budget of 1.11 trillion yuan ($175bn; 126bn) for the coming year, a BBC News report said on Monday.

The economic growth target announced Monday is part of a broader "work report" delivered each year by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in which he provides other details about the government's plans and expectations for the country's huge economy.

Though China announced its military spending at about United States dollars 150.5 billion a year ago, observers say it is considerably higher, considering it is now building two more aircraft carriers in addition to the one already in service as well as addition of new jet fighters, including stealth fighter J-20.

China is the second largest spender on defence after the US.

Under the new budget, China is spending three times as much on defense as India, and a good deal of its military infrastructure buildup is occurring near the Indian border in the Himalayas.

The proposal, part of Trump's budget request for the US government, would provide the Pentagon $617-billion and an additional $69-billion to fund ongoing wars in fiscal year 2019.

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With a defense policy that is defensive in nature, China's development will not pose a threat to any other country, he said.

The 6.5 per cent growth target is below the 6.9 per cent level attained in 2017, the first time in seven years that the rate of expansion had increased.

"We will improve the transmission mechanism of monetary policy, make better use of differentiated reserve ratio and credit policies, and encourage more funds to flow toward small and micro businesses, agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents, and poor areas, and to better serve the real economy", Mr Li said in his report.

He highlighted that Beijing will raise its defence budget by a hefty 8.1% over the previous year, signalling the country's intent to build world-class armed forces.

The report also said China would clamp down on the kind of financially risky operations which have threatened to cause the collapse of major companies.

China has cut 300,000 troops from its forces, leaving it with an army of around two million solders.

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China's military build-up has unnerved its neighbors, particularly because of its increasing assertiveness in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and over Taiwan, a self-ruled territory Beijing claims as its own.

"There is every indication that China wants to expand what it will call defence capabilities in the South China Sea".

Despite the increase, China still lags far behind USA military spending, which is expected to increase by $80 billion next year to a total of $686 billion.

U.S. warships, meanwhile, regularly conduct "freedom of navigation" operations near the islands to challenge China's territorial claims.

"Some [of it] will be hidden in civilian spending", said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States, meanwhile, spent 3.3 percent of its GDP on military spending.

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"Upholding the leadership of the Communist Party of China and reflecting the will of the people should be the principles for amending the Constitution", Zhang said at a press conference.

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