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China aims for around 6.5% economic growth in 2017

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China to boost defense spending by 'about 7%' in 2017 amid 'outside meddling' in maritime disputes

China's defense budget will expand by about 7% this year, the slowest pace this decade, but a senior Chinese official said it was still enough for Beijing to prevent "outside forces" from interfering in its territorial disputes.

China's announcement to increase defence spending comes after US President Donald Trump vowed a 10 per cent increase in America's military spending of about Dollars 600 billion.

Fu said that the 2017 defense budget increase accounts for about 1.3 percent of GDP.

The target for consumer price inflation this year was kept unchanged at 3 percent.

The 2016 figure marked the first time since 2010 that spending growth did not rise into double figures.

It was reported recently that on several of the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea, facilities that can accommodate long-range, surface-to-air missiles, are nearing completion.

Xi made the remarks while joining in a panel discussion with lawmakers from Shanghai at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

China has hiked its military spending by seven per cent to Dollars 152 billion, about three times higher than that of India, as Beijing braced for countering America's push into the disputed South China Sea. Fu pointed out that the South China Sea has not been listed as a high risk area, as such where does the worry for navigational safety come from?

The federal government has taken another step toward a free-trade agreement with China, officially launching three months of consultations that will help it determine "how to best proceed" with the possible deal.

The announcement comes amid United States plans to boost military and security spending by 10%, Sputnik reported. USA activities, to a certain extent, are a barometer for the situation there.

Fu Ying on Saturday shrugged off questions about military investment.

As well as walking tall politically, China is also keen to improve the quality of its economy and give real substance to back up its position as the world's second biggest economy.

A year before that, China increased the defence spending by about 15 per cent as part of its efforts to modernise the world's largest military of 2.3 million troops. "The army's equipment is being upgraded. China's army is still in the progress of military modernisation". The nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has become increasingly complicated, while the USA and the Republic of Korea hold frequent joint military drills.

"China has lowered the economic development targets across the board", said Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.

"Whether the militaries will pose a threat to each another, we'll need to look at their strategic intentions", she added. "Key sources" of industrial pollutants would be placed under 24-hour online monitoring in a bid to cut emissions. Indeed, Fu and her colleagues may find it tough to sell the 7 percent figure at home.

President Xi Jinping has announced plans to cut 300,000 troops from the People's Liberation Army.

Future trends in the region "will depend on U.S. intentions vis-a-vis the region and USA activities (which) to a certain extent set the barometer for the situation here", Fu said.

"This year, to reduce excess capacity, we need to make accommodation for 500,000 workers", Chinese Labor Minister Yin Weimin said last week. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year.

The Global Times, a Party-controlled newspaper known for its strident, nationalist tone, had called for an increase of 10 percent.

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