China has revealed plans to increase its military spending by 7.6% to $146bn, making it the second largest defence spender after the US.
National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesperson Fu Ying was cited by Xinhua as saying: "China’s military budget will continue to grow this year but the margin will be lower than last year."
The growth is reportedly the lowest in defence spending in six years, with an increase of 10.1% last year.
According to Fu, this year’s increase is said to be ‘in line with China’s national defence needs and its fiscal revenue’.
China’s military expenditure announcement comes at a time when the nation is surrounded with escalating controversies over the disputed South China Sea, and tensions with the US.
Fu Ying was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying: "Talking about the militarisation if we look at the advanced aircraft and ships entering the area, the majority of them are from the US. Isn’t it militarisation?
"Most of Chinese lawmakers and ordinary people are not pleased and do not agree with the US showing off military power by sending warships to waters close to the SCS islands and reefs."
Earlier this year, the Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) released a new guideline on deepening national defence and military reform.
The defence guideline proposed a restructure of the overall administration of the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese People’s Armed Police, the militia and reserve forces, and battle zone commands.
The reforms aim to build a modern military with Chinese characteristics, and enhance military administration and structure, joint operational command, policy systems and civilian-military integration.
The guideline will see a reduction from 2.3 million to 2 million improved combatant personnel, as well as the reform of military academies and armed police forces.
This will involve developing new weapons systems to replace outdated armaments.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) recently proposed its defence budget requirement seeking $582.7bn for fiscal 2017.