A soldier is patrolling on Beishuang Island in China’s southeastern coastal area on February 14, 2018. (Photo from 81.cn, the website of the People’s Liberation Army)
A soldier is patrolling on Beishuang Island in China’s southeastern coastal area on February 14, 2018. (Photo from 81.cn, the website of the People’s Liberation Army)

China has basically completed its mission of reducing the armed forces by 300,000 troops, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday when delivering a government work report at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress.

Over the past five years, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, China has embarked on a new stage in strengthening and energizing the armed forces, Li added.

China will raise its defense budget for 2018 by 8.1 percent to 1.11 trillion yuan (about $175 billion), according to a budget report submitted to the top legislature on the same day.

Responding to the doubts on China’s defense budget increase, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the session explained that a large part of the growth is to make up for the scant military spending in the past.

The budget will be mainly used to upgrade equipment and improve the welfare of servicemen and servicewomen, he explained, adding that the living and training conditions of grassroots troops also need to be lifted.

Zhang noted that China’s defense budget in recent years takes up a smaller share of its gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure compared with other major countries. Its military spending per capita is also lower than other major countries, he further stressed.

China’s development will never be a threat for any other country, as it pursues a path of peaceful development with a defense policy that is defensive in nature, he underlined.

By Zhao Cheng

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