China's increase in military spending for 2018, the biggest rise in three years, was proportionate and low, and Beijing had not been goaded into an arms race with the United States, state media said on Tuesday.
on Monday unveiled an 8.1 per cent rise in defence spending at the opening of parliament, fuelling an ambitious military modernisation programme and making its neighbours, particularly Japan and self-ruled Taiwan, nervous.
In an editorial, the official
Daily said the figure had prompted "finger-pointing from the usual suspects".
"China's defence budget is neither the largest in size - it accounts for just one-fourth of the military spending of the United States - nor does it have the fastest growth rate," the English-language newspaper said.
"And if calculated in per capita terms,
China's military lags well behind other major countries."
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The defence spending figure is closely watched worldwide for clues to
China's strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.
insists its military spending is transparent and that it poses a threat to nobody, simply needing to update old equipment and defend its legitimate interests, even as it is increasingly assertive over disputes in the East and South
Seas and on self-ruled Taiwan, which
In the East and South
is simply trying to stand up for itself, the
"The country has seen its maritime interests being increasingly infringed upon in recent years, and thus seeking a stronger military is natural for it to safeguard its interests and counter any threat that may materialise from the aggressive posturing of others upset by its rise."
has seen the United States as its biggest potential security threat, alarming Beijing with freedom of navigation patrols in the South
Sea the United States calling
a strategic competitor.
US President Donald Trump has proposed the largest military budget since 2011, focused on beefing up the United States' nuclear defences and countering the growing strength of
Official Chinese defence spending is about one-quarter that of the United States, though many foreign analysts and diplomats say
under-reports the figure.
Widely-read Chinese tabloid the Global Times said if
really wanted to expand militarily, the defence budget should really be rising 20 to 30 percent.
has obviously not fallen into the mind-set of engaging in an arms race with the US Otherwise it could totally realise double-digit increases in its defence expenditure," the paper said in its editorial.
US provocations in the South
Sea, tension in the Taiwan Strait and the United States, Japan, Australia and India forming alliances demand a rise in spending, it added.
"But Beijing has stuck to its own template and was not disturbed by external factors."
has made no secret of its broader military ambitions, with President Xi Jinping promising last year to makeChina's armed forces world-class by the middle of the century.
Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which runs the armed forces and Xi heads, told military delegates to parliament that
needed to "fully strengthen troop training and war preparedness and raise the ability to win", state news agency Xinhua said late on Monday.