China will raise defence spending “around seven percent” this year as it guards against “outside meddling” in its disputed regional territorial claims, a top official said Saturday, in an apparent reference to Washington.
Just days after US President Donald Trump outlined plans to raise American military spending by around 10 percent, a spokeswoman for China’s parliament told reporters that future Chinese expenditures will depend on US actions in the region.
“We call for a peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation (of the territorial disputes). At the same time we need the ability to safeguard our sovereignty and interests and rights,” spokeswoman Fu Ying said at a press conference.
“In particular, we need to guard against outside meddling in the disputes.”
The annual press briefing comes a day ahead of Sunday’s opening of the National People’s Congress.
The planned spending increase is in line with last year, when the government said 2016 outlays would increase by 6.5-7.0 percent.
The 2016 figure marked the first time in six years that spending growth did not rise into double figures.
“China has never caused harm to anyone, to any country,” she said.
Future trends in the region “will depend on US intentions vis-a-vis the region and US activities (which) to a certain extent set the barometer for the situation here,” Fu said.
“Probably fundamentally the United States is concerned that China may catch up with the United States in terms of capability, but we are a developing country. There is a huge gap between China and the US in capability.” —AFP