Experts had predicted the increase to be around 10 per cent, in line with previous budget hikes.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks in a video message to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting that opened in Shanghai, east China, Feb. 26, 2016. [Xinhua]
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks in a video message to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting that opened in Shanghai, east China, Feb. 26, 2016. [Xinhua]
The increase was announced by Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress, on the eve of the congress’s annual session.

Military spending was still increasing faster than the overall rate of economic growth.

On Saturday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to announce the government’s target for gross domestic product (GDP) growth for this year.

After decades of breakneck growth, China’s economy grew by just 6.9 per cent in 2015, the slowest growth in more than a quarter of a century.

President Xi Jinping in November set the target for China’s annual economic growth rate at a minimum of 6.5 per cent for the next five years.

At Friday’s press conference, Fu Ying also defended China’s construction of runways and the stationing of air-defence missiles on islands in the South China Sea.

The islands are “so far from the mainland that they needed their own defences,” said Fu, while denying that the moves were about militarization.

Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including small islands hundreds of kilometres from its southern coast, many of which are subject to competing claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.

Source: GNA

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