China will raise its defence spending by 12.2 per cent this year, the country's finance ministry said today.
"The appropriation for national defence is 808.23 billion yuan ($132 billion), up 12.2 per cent,'' it said in a budget report prepared for the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), which starts Wednesday.
"Based on our history and experience, we believe that peace can only be maintained by strength," NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying said ahead of the gathering.
Analysts observe that this marks another double-digit increase in the Asian power's military spending, even as it expands its claims on the China Sea which has its neighbours worried.
The Asian giant has for years boosted spending on the People's Liberation Army, reflecting its military ambitions as it asserts its global standing and its territorial claims.
China increased military spending by 10.7 per cent in 2013, following earlier announced rises of 11.2 per cent in 2012 and 12.7 per cent in 2011. Observers feel that much more defence spending is off the books, as the autocratic government is not answerable to the people.
Premier Li Keqiang told the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing today that China will continue to enhance border, coastal and air defences.
''We will comprehensively enhance the revolutionary nature of the Chinese armed forces, further modernize them and upgrade their performance, and continue to raise their deterrence and combat capabilities in the information age,'' Li said.
China will boost research on national defense and the development of new and high technology weapons, he added.
China's military modernization is increasing tension in the region as it challenges the guarantee of security provided by the US for more than a half a century over sea lanes that carry large volumes of world trade.
Xi has made a strong military a key priority and said he wants the nation to be a maritime power.