China has increased its defense spending in recent years mostly to upgrade arms and equipment, and the country's defense budget is lower than other major countries, a spokesperson for the annual session of China's top legislature said on Sunday. [Special coverage]
Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), made the comment at a press conference on Sunday.
China's defense budget, in terms of its share of GDP as well as per capita expenditure, is lower than other major countries in the world, Zhang said.
A country's defense budget needs to fit the nation's economic development and national security, Zhang added. He said China has increased its defense expenditure in recent years mostly to update arms and equipment, improve soldiers' living conditions and training environment.
Zhang did not elaborate on how much the defense budget would increase in 2018.
China will pursue a peaceful development path and defensive strategy, and the country's development will not threaten any other country, Zhang noted.
The major concern is the increase in the price of equipment, such as the J-20, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Song predicts that the defense budget would be around 8 to 9 percent higher this year. Even if this year's defense budget increases by 10 percent from the previous year, it would only account for 1.6 percent of GDP, much lower than the widely-expected 2 percent, he noted.
China's 2017 defense budget was set to increase by 7 percent from 2016's actual expense, or 1.04 trillion yuan ($152 billion), with 1.02 trillion yuan from the central budget, Xinhua reported.
China increased its military spending by 7.6 percent in 2016, 10.1 percent in 2015, 12.2 percent in 2014 and 10.7 percent in 2013.
The US announcement of an increase in its defense budget put pressure on countries like China and Russia to change their growth target, Song said.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) rolled out its budget for fiscal year 2019 in mid-February, asking Congress for $716 billion for arms purchases and a staff expansion, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
This marks the first time that the Pentagon base budget has topped $600 billion in recent years, a 10 percent increase from the current spending approved by Congress.
When asked whether China is "exporting" its model to change the international order, Zhang said that China has no intention to change the world order. He said China intends to contribute to a fair and open international order.
There's no one-size-fits-all development pattern in the world. China follows its own path, and will not "import" a foreign model nor will it "export" the Chinese model, he added.