China will continue to lower its defense budget growth rate to 6.6 percent in 2020, according to a draft budget report Friday.
The 2020 defense budget continues to see single-digit growth for a fifth consecutive year. It is the lowest growth rate in recent years.
This year's defense budget will be around 1.27 trillion yuan (about 179 billion U.S. dollars), according to the draft to be deliberated during the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) starting Friday.
China's total defense spending in 2019 only amounted to a quarter that of the United States, the world's largest defense spender, while the per capita expenditure was just about one-seventeenth.
Noting China has no "hidden military spending," Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the third session of the 13th NPC, said that the country is transparent about its defense spending.
China's defense spending has been staying at around 1.3 percent of its gross domestic product for many years, well below the world's average of 2.6 percent, Zhang said at a press conference held ahead of the NPC annual session.
"China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," Zhang said, pointing out that the country's military spending, not only in aggregate but also in per capita terms, is "appropriate and restrained."
China has voluntarily cut its armed forces by over 4 million troops since 1978, according to a white paper on China's national defense in the new era.
The country has been committed to promoting world peace. It stands against aggression and expansion, and opposes arbitrary use or threat of arms, read the white paper issued last year.