China's defence budget this year is likely to rise at its slowest pace since 2010, in line with the decelerating economy. Natasha Howitt reports.
China's economy has been slowing, and now it says its defence budget is too. The shrinking budget follows nearly two decades of double-digit increases, and is still lower than expected. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS SPOKESWOMAN, FU YING, SAYING: "This year, China's defence budget will maintain growth, but the amount of growth will be lower than last year's, between 7 to 8 percent." President Xi Jinping has shown efforts to modernise the People's Liberation Army by cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs and revamping it's Cold War-era command structure. But despite the cuts, China's military build-up in the region is causing alarm and Beijing is reaffirming its claims in territorial disputes. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS SPOKESWOMAN, FU YING, SAYING: "Expanding construction in the South China Sea is extremely necessary. This is something that the Chinese people all support, and they believe that these islands are so far our country, from the mainland, and they should have their own ability to defend themselves, and deploying defence installations is a necessity." China will announce the actual defence budget figure on Saturday.