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(LEAD) China's 2016 military budget to rise 7.6 pct

All Headlines 10:04 March 05, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details from para 5)

BEIJING, March 5 (Yonhap) -- China will boost its military spending by 7.6 percent this year to 954.35 billion yuan (US$146.44 billion), the Chinese government announced Saturday.

It marked the first single-digit rise in six years as the Chinese economy shows signs of cooling.

China raised its military budget by 10.1 percent last year to 886.9 billion yuan.

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping is modernizing the country's military by developing high-tech defense hardware, including a second aircraft carrier, while cutting the number of soldiers by 300,000 and overhauling its command structure.

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.

Chen Zhou, director of the National Defense Policy Research Center of China's military, told the state-run China Daily that the lower increase in this year's military budget "represents the government's efforts to strike a balance between economic growth and defense outlays."

kdh@yna.co.kr
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