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(LEAD) China's 2016 military budget to rise '7 to 8 pct': official

All Headlines 14:10 March 04, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 3-5; RECASTS lead para)

BEIJING, March 4 (Yonhap) -- China will raise its military budget by seven to eight percent this year, the spokeswoman for the country's rubber-stamp parliament said Friday, marking the first single-digit rise in six years as the national economy starts showing signs of cooling.

The actual figure will be released on Saturday, but Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People's Congress, the Chinese Communist Party-controlled parliament, told a news conference that the growth rate of China's military budget for this year will be "between seven and eight percent."

Fu said the increase is "in line with China's national defense needs and fiscal revenue."

China raised its military budget by 10.1 percent last year to 886.9 billion yuan (US$135.33 billion).

Chinese President Xi Jinping is modernizing the country's military by cutting the number of soldiers by 300,000 and overhauling its command structure.

China's economy grew 6.9 percent last year and is expected to decline further this year.

China's rapid military modernization has increased tensions with its Asian neighbors at a time when it is embroiled in bitter territorial disputes with Japan and other nations over islands in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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