China to increase 2017 military spending by 7 percent

That represents an average annual increase in their wealth of 13 percent over the four year period from 2013-2016, compared with economic growth averaging 7.2 percent, an average rise of 7 percent in the CSI300 stock index, and an average 5 percent increase in home prices over the same period.

"At the same time, we need the ability to safeguard our sovereignty, and our rights and interests", Ms. Fu said.

It follows almost 20 years of double-digital budget increases as China sought to rapidly expand its military might.

There would also be more monitoring of industrial pollution.

Ms. Fu said recent talks with China's neighbors had eased those tensions, a position Beijing has repeated often in recent weeks as Mr. Trump has suggested he will take a tougher approach toward Beijing on trade and territorial issues. Some U.S. officials are pushing for the Navy to send ships and aircraft to conduct regular "freedom of navigation" operations near China's artificial islands.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump promised to increase U.S. military spending by 10 per cent, adding $54 billion to take the overall budget to $603 billion.

Chinese defence spending would stay at around 1.3 per cent of GDP, she added.

Last year, with the economy slowing, the defence budget recorded its lowest increase in six years, 7.6 percent, the first single-digit rise since 2010 after a almost unbroken two-decade run of double-digit increases.

And over half of them are dollar billionaires. In all, China spends about $145 billion on defense.

Ownership reforms at more than 100 central government-run enterprises will be completed by the end of the year as part of efforts to use private capital to revive its lumbering state sector, state media reported last month.

The government would also increase exchanges with young people in Taiwan in order to "build up public support for the peaceful development of cross-straits relations", he said.

China will work to clear its skies by increasing investment in clean energy and punishing polluters, Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday in comments aimed at mollifying public anger over chronic smog.

Mr Li said the government's focus would be on boosting consumption, shutting down idle steel mills and coal mines, cleaning up the environment to "make our skies blue again" and allowing more room for the private sector and foreign companies. "But we must be fully alert to the build-up of risks", Li said.

  • Leroy Wright