China confirms 7 percent increase in 2017 defense budget


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.

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

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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)