Beijing, March 4: China's defence budget will grow by around 10 percent this year, down from 12.2 a year before, a spokeswoman for the annual session of the country's top legislature said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference a day ahead of the third Session of the 12th National People's Congress, the spokeswoman, Fu Ying, said that the exact figure would be published in a budget report on Thursday.
China's defence budget rose by 12.2 percent last year, riding on a multi-year run of double-digit increases, and the growth rate of about 10 percent could be the lowest in five years.
Fu said that as a big country, China needed an army that could safeguard its national security and people.
"To tell the truth, there is still a gap between China's armed forces (and foreign counterparts) in terms of overall military equipment. We still need more time," said Fu, adding that capital support was needed for the modernisation of China's national defence and its army.
"Lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks. That is a lesson we have learnt from history," she said, adding that China's defence policy was defensive in nature.