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A general view shows the Great Hall of the People ahead of the opening session of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on March 4, 2023.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

China’s defense spending as a share of gross domestic product has been kept basically stable for many years, with the increases “moderate” and “reasonable,” the spokesman of the country’s parliament said on Saturday.

“The modernization of China’s military will not pose a threat to any country,” Wang Chao, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, told reporters.

Wang was asked at a news conference by how much China’s defense budget would increase this year, and whether any increase would be larger than in previous years.

He declined to give any figures for this year’s defense budget.

The spending figure will be officially unveiled in the national budget to be released on Sunday at the start of this year’s annual meeting of parliament.

It will be closely watched by China’s neighbors and in Washington as a barometer of how aggressively the country will beef up its military.

Beijing routinely says that spending for defensive purposes is a comparatively low percentage of its GDP and that critics want to demonize it as a threat to world peace.

China is nervous about challenges on several fronts, ranging from Chinese-claimed Taiwan to U.S. naval and air missions in the disputed South China Sea near Chinese-occupied islands and a festering border dispute with India.

China staged war games near Taiwan in August to express anger at the visit to Taipei of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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