China confirms 7 percent increase in 2017 defense budget

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A Finance Ministry official confirmed China's defense budget will rise 7 percent in 2017, to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.43 billion), state media said on Monday.

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The official Xinhua news agency gave the figures on its microblog, citing an unnamed Finance Ministry official.

On Saturday, the spokeswoman of China's parliament, Fu Ying, had said defense spending for this year would rise about 7 percent, accounting for about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product - the same level as the last few years.

But in a highly unusual move, the exact figure was not included in a Finance Ministry report issued at Sunday's opening of parliament's annual meeting, triggering questions over the transparency of China's military spending.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)