Beijing (CNN)-China on Saturday announced a 7% rise in annual military spending, the smallest increase in seven years.
Fu Ying, the spokeswoman for the National People's Congress (NPC), which begins its 11-day session Sunday, said the proposed budget "based on defense needs as well as the national economy" accounted for 1.3% of China's GDP.
"We have to guard against external forces from getting involved in our territorial disputes," she said in response to a CNN question. "The strengthening of China's (military) capabilities help preserve peace and stability in the region, not the opposite."
The single-digit increase comes after US President Donald Trump's announcement that he wants to jack up US military spending by $54 billion next year.
That's a 10% increase over the cap on defense spending imposed by a budget deal that Congress passed six years ago.
In 2016, China said its military budget would increase by 7.6% to $146 billion, the slowest pace in six years. Until last year, China's budget had increased at a double-digit pace since 2010.
China's defense spending is eclipsed by the United States, which in 2015 accounted for 36% of all military spending worldwide, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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