Beijing: China's Finance ministry are increasing their defense budget to 1.2 trillion yuan ($147 billion) for the first time, while the exact figures were kept out of public documents released at the start of the country's annual legislative session.
China said on Saturday that its military budget this year would grow by about seven percent, its lowest pace since 2010.
The announcement came before the Communist Party's annual parliamentary and political meetings in Beijing.
Last year, the defence budget recorded its lowest increase in six years. 7.6 percent. the first single single-digit rise since 2010 after a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double increases.
While the administration of new US President Donald Trump is planning a 10 percent rise in military spending in 2017, and worries about possible disputes with US over the South China Sea and the status of Taiwan, some in China had been pressing for a forceful messaeg from this year's defence budget.
China's military build-up has rattled nerves around the region, particularly because Beijing has taken an incresingly assertive stance in its terrotrial disputes in the East anbd South China Sea over Taiwan, which it claims as its own.
However, there are conserns for china's military, including how to deal with 300,000 troops President Xi Jinping announced in 2015 would be cut, mainly by the end of 2017.When only last month Chinese vetarians demonstrated in central Beijing for two consecutive days, demanding unpaid retirement benifits in a new wave of protests highlighting the difficulty in managing demobilising troops.
"It's not yet certain what is going to happen to these people and the military is clearly hoping for more money to deal with them," one senior Beijing-based Asia diplomat said before this year's defence budget was announced.
A seven percent rise's this year based on last year's budget would bring the figure to 1.02 trillion yuan ($147bn), still a quarter or so of the US defense budget.
Military analyst Ni Lexiong at Shanghai's University of Politics and Law said the modest growth rate of 7 percent demonstrates China's goodwill in avoiding conflicts and suspending regional stability.
"Showing China's sincerity of peace to the world," he adds.