China's military outlay this year will for the first time cross $150 billion, rising by around 7 to 8 per cent to four times India's outlay, officials said today.
The defence budget, which will be formally approved by the Chinese Parliament or National People's Congress (NPC), which opens its annual session on Saturday, will increase by an amount "smaller than last year, at around seven to eight percent", NPC spokesperson Fu Ying told reporters.
A 7 to 8 per cent rise will take China's spending to around $155 billion, or four times that of India's which was announced earlier in this week's budget at $38 billion, not including the outlay on the pensions bill. India's outlay, excluding pensions, rose around 4 per cent.
In deciding the budget, China considers "defence needs first, economic development second and fiscal position third", Fu, who also heads the NPC Foreign Affairs Commitee, said.
The budget will go towards taking forward the People's Liberation Army's ongoing sweeping military reform. Under President Xi Jinping, the PLA has been pushing a transformation into a more high-tech force. In September, Xi announced a demobilization of 3 lakh soldiers of the 2.3 million army.
Amid rising tensions with the US over the South China Sea, Fu hit out at the US for accusing China of militarizing islands and reefs, saying that "my impression is that the US military by hyping the issue wants more appropriation".
"Talking of militarisation, if you look at the most advanced aircraft and ships entering and exiting the South China Sea, the majority are from the US," she said.