China to boost defence spending by 7 percent

Posted March 06, 2017

The fifth session of the 12th NPC is scheduled to open in Beijing on March 5.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is due to deliver the country's economic report card to the National People's Congress (NPC) in the capital Beijing. And this year's gathering is looking particularly underwhelming, summed up as it is by that least buzzy of buzzwords: stability.

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.

But the one person whose name will be on every party official's lips is 7,000 miles away: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Both are China-led regional free-trade deals that have come to the fore after the United States pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, putting the signed pact in jeopardy. And although the real estate mogul has tempered his vitriol since his inauguration, his speech to the Congress on Tuesday duly noted, "we've lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001".

Ms. Fu, speaking to reporters, dismissed concerns voiced by the US and other foreign governments about China's military spending and operations, saying Beijing isn't responsible for recent conflicts in the world and wants a peaceful settlement of its territorial disputes in the region.

This suggests the sharp fall in commodity prices forecast by some is unlikely to eventuate this year as Beijing wants minimal disruptions ahead of the five-yearly National Party Congress in November. "The future trend will depend on USA intentions in the region".

Li warned that China faced "more complicated and graver situations" this year both at home and overseas.

China is targeting growth of 6.5% in 2017 - down slightly from last year's actual 6.7% rate - a 25-year low for the industrial powerhouse.

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He said the government intends over the next year to step up work to upgrade coal-fired power plants to achieve ultra-low emissions and energy conservation, and prioritize the integration of renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.

"I think we'll take our own path", Fu says with a smile. With the USA out of the picture - experts suggest that Beijing could profit. In this year's report, "moderate" gave way to "moderately neutral", indicating a turn toward a tighter monetary policy.

But its military capabilities remain modest compared to the United States, Fu said, adding that concerns about the country's military buildup are unwarranted.

Given the old industrial economy was responsible for the upswing in activity in the second half of previous year the government is unlikely to disrupt its momentum ahead of November.

Recent satellite imagery indicates China is completing structures meant to house surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) on a series of such artificial landmasses, the Washington think-tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said last week. At the recent CPAC meeting, chief White House strategist Steve Bannon reaffirmed Washington's commitment to a nationalist economic course.

China has cut its growth target this year as it pushes through painful reforms to address a rapid buildup in debt and constructs a "firewall" against financial risks.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration seemed to brush-off talk that it backed down to Chinese pressure and Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, insisted that the "president always gets something" for a concession such as this.

While American manufacturing has been falling steadily since the 1960s, American agriculture today relies heavily on Chinese consumers.

Through the APEC Beijing summit in 2014, the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 and the G20 Hangzhou summit in 2016, China's top leader has played a responsible and irreplaceable role in relevant fields.

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