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China Defense Buildup Slows as Xi Focuses on Military Revamp

  • Budget to rise 7% to 8%, slowest pace since at least 2010
  • China military spending remains less than a quarter of U.S.
Members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during a drill demonstration at an open day at the Ngong Suen Chau Barracks in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg
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The pace of China’s defense spending growth will slow to between 7 and 8 percent this year as President Xi Jinping carries out the most sweeping military overhaul in decades in an effort to improve the ability of the nation’s armed forces to fight and win wars.

The spending increase, announced before Saturday’s start of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, will be the smallest since at least 2010, when outlays climbed 7.7 percent, according to data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. That 2016 projected increase in defense spending by the central and local governments compared with a 10 percent rise last year. The pace of growth in the military budget is still higher than the expected 6.5 percent to 7 percent expansion of China’s economy.