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China to raise defence spending by 7.5%, lower than 2018
[BEIJING] China will raise military spending by 7.5 per cent in 2019, lower than the increase last year, according to a government report released Tuesday.
The government will spend 1.19 trillion yuan (S$241 billion) on defence, after it increased by 8.1 per cent to 1.11 trillion yuan in 2018.
The lowered rate comes as the country's economy is slowing down, with the report presented at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress setting a growth target of between 6.0-6.5 per cent.
China is the world's second-biggest military spender but remains far behind the United States, which budgeted US$716 billion for defence in 2019.
The spending plan comes as Beijing steps up its rhetoric against any independence movements in self-ruled Taiwan and continues to assert its vast territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
China has strived to provide its two million-strong People's Liberation Army with state-of-the-art hardware, spending heavily on stealth warplanes, aircraft carriers and other weaponry.