Beijing: China on Friday hiked its defence budget to USD 209 billion, maintaining a single-digit growth for the sixth consecutive year with a 6.8 per cent increase in 2021.
The budget hike was announced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the country's Parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).
Defending the increase, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the NPC, told the media here that China's efforts to strengthen the national defence do not target or threaten any country.
Whether a country poses a threat to others depends on what kind of defence policy it pursues, he said, adding that China is committed to the path of peaceful development and adheres to a defence policy that is defensive in nature.
Last year, China allocated 1.268 trillion yuan (about USD 196.44 billion), according to the state-run Global Times.
China's annual defence budget maintains a single-digit growth for a sixth consecutive year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
This year's planned defence spending will be about 1.35 trillion yuan (about USD 209 billion), it said.
China's defence budget is about one quarter of the US figure, which is USD 740.5 billion for the 2021 fiscal year, it said.
As the world's second largest economy and the most populous country, China's planned defence spending per capita in 2021 will be less than 1,000 yuan (USD 154), it said.
China applies strict mechanisms of fiscal allocation and budget management on its defence expenditure, which is mainly assigned to personnel, training and sustainment, and equipment, it said.
China has voluntarily downsized its armed forces by over four million troops since 1978, according to a white paper released in 2019.