BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China's annual defense budget will maintain single-digit growth for a sixth consecutive year by increasing 6.8 percent in 2021, according to a draft budget report made public on Friday.
This year's planned defense spending will be about 1.35 trillion yuan (about 209 billion U.S. dollars), read the draft submitted to the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress for deliberation.
China's defense budget is about one quarter of the U.S. figure, which is 740.5 billion U.S. dollars for the 2021 fiscal year.
As the world' second largest economy and the most populous country, China's planned defense spending per capita in 2021 will be less than 1,000 yuan.
China applies strict mechanisms of fiscal allocation and budget management on its defense expenditure, which is mainly assigned to personnel, training and sustainment, and equipment.
China has voluntarily cut its armed forces by over 4 million troops since 1978, according to a white paper released in 2019.
"In general, China's defense spending is commensurate with the overall level of economic development," said Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the fourth session of the 13th NPC, at a press conference held on Thursday.
Maintaining appropriate and steady increase of the defense spending is needed to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests, fulfill China's international responsibility and obligations, and promote the transformation of national defense with Chinese characteristics, Zhang said.
"China's efforts to strengthen national defense do not target or threaten any country. Whether a country poses a threat to others depends on what kind of defense policy it pursues," Zhang added.
Pointing out that China's defense budget is reviewed and approved by the NPC each year as part of the overall national budget, Zhang said that the country's defense expenditure is open and transparent.