China to increase 2018 defense budget by 8.1 percent

Deputies to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) gathered Sunday morning at a preparatory meeting to elect the presidium and set the agenda for the first session of the 13th NPC scheduled to begin on Monday. Sources previously told Reuters that China will maintain its growth target at "around 6.5 percent".

While many China watchers still believe the GDP numbers are much weaker than the official figures suggest, the country is a key driver of global growth.

"We can expect that China's defense budget will continue to be subordinated to, and coordinated with, China's economic performance".

China also refuted criticism that its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a geo-strategic tool to spread its influence and said such a characterisation was a "misinterpretation".

The proposal, part of Trump's budget request for the US government, would provide the Pentagon $617 billion and an additional $69 billion to fund ongoing wars in fiscal year 2019. The National Development and Reform Commission, the state planner, said in a separate report that outstanding total social financing (TSF) and M2 growth will grow at a similar pace this year as in 2017.

Li said the target would enable China to achieve "relatively full employment".

The chairman of the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, which worked on both ships, said the company was "ready to build larger" carriers after gaining the experience to make more, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Friday.

The gathering of top Chinese leaders this week takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions over global trade.

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"The policy changes of the major economies and their spillover effects create uncertainty; protectionism is mounting, and geopolitical risks are on the ascent", Li said.

Beijing has so far given a cautious response to Trump's announcement.

Last year's growth came in at 6.9 per cent but that was supported by a boom in bank lending and real estate sales that regulators are trying to rein in amid concern about debt that has soared to the equivalent of 270 per cent of annual economic output - unusually high for a developing country. The defence budget of the United States which is the highest in the world amounted to Dollars 602.8 billion.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government aims to keep the yuan exchange rate stable with consumer price index to reach expected 3 percent in 2018.

While the central bank has been gingerly raising money market rates to discourage riskier lending practices, it has also kept markets well supplied with funds when there are worries of a deeper cash squeeze, and bank lending hit a fresh record previous year.

Mr Trump's announcement came as President Xi Jinping's top economic aide, Mr Liu He, met USA officials at the White House. The budget deficit target cut was the first in years, suggesting Beijing will be more watchful of fiscal spending as China advances its fight against financial risks.

The ruling Communist Party last month set the stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely, with a proposal to remove term limits from the constitution.

Observers will be watching for hints such as where Wang is seated at the session on Monday, since he is no longer a Politburo Standing Committee member.

  • Sonia Alvarado