China will gradually increase defence spending to modernise its armed forces and further technological development, according to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Jintao called for more efforts to accelerate the upgrading of defence-related science, technology and weaponry, reports by Chinese media quoted the president as saying.

“We will gradually increase input in national defence as the economy grows, and continue to modernise national defence and the armed forces in a way that serves the interests of our national security and development,” he says.

Earlier this year, the Chinese legislature approved an increase in defence spending of 17.8%, taking the total spend to $44.94bn for 2007.