China's defense budget for 2007 is expected to hit 350.92 billion yuan (US$44.94 billion), 17.8 percent higher than that last year, a spokesman for China's top legislature's annual session said here Sunday.
The figure marks an increase of 52.99 billion yuan (US$6.79 billion) over that last year.
This year's defense budget accounts for 7.5 percent of the nation's budgeted fiscal expenditure, compared with 7.7 percent in 2004, 7.3 percent in 2005 and 7.4 percent in 2006, said Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC).
The State Council, or the cabinet, is to submit the budget for approval at the annual session of the legislature, which is scheduled to open here Monday.
Jiang said the defense budget is raised to further increase the salaries and allowances for servicemen and army retirees, so as to ensure their income is lifted together with economic and social development.
More money will be spent to improve public facilities and board expenses in the army for better drilling and living conditions, he said.
The increased part will also be used to upgrade military equipment and improve the troops' capability of fighting a defensive war based on information technologies, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2007)