BEIJING: China's defence budget will rise by about 10 percent in 2015, Beijing said Wednesday, extending a run of double-digit annual increases that reflects its broad military ambitions.
The estimate was announced by Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for China's Communist-controlled parliament, ahead of the figure's official release on Wednesday.
Beijing has for years been raising spending on the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in double-digit steps, flexing its military and economic might as it asserts its claims in a series of territorial disputes with Tokyo and others.
Last year, a budget report prepared for the National People's Congress (NPC) said that defence appropriations had risen 12.2 percent -- a figure that raised eyebrows in the region and Washington.
"Now, I can reveal to you the general case, which is that the increase in proposed defence spending in the 2015 draft budget will be about 10 percent," said Fu.
The rise was in line with the central government's overall spending growth, she added.
China's defence budget saw stated increases of 10.7 percent in 2013, 11.2 percent in 2012 and 12.7 percent in 2011.
Analysts believe China's actual military spending is significantly higher than publicised, with the Pentagon estimating it at between $135 billion and $215 billion in 2012.
China's ruling Communist Party maintains that its military -- the world's largest -- is aimed at securing peace rather than engaging in disputes with its neighbours over territory in the East and South China Seas.
On February 28, India announced on Saturday a modest 7.9 percent increase in defence spending for the fiscal year starting April 1, suggesting that it will move only gradually with the military’s long wish list for fighter jets, ships and artillery.
After years of neglect, India is trying to narrow the military gap with China, which has been building up its fleet of ships and submarines making forays in the Indian Ocean.
Read: India raises defence budget modestly as it confront China challenge
Beijing also frequently defends China's military rise by pointing to the "century of humiliation" the country endured during its partial occupation by European powers in the 19th century.
"Our lesson from history -- those who fall behind will get bullied -- this is something we will never forget," Fu told reporters.
"Our country will achieve modernisation, of which national defence modernisation is an important part," she added. "This requires a certain guaranteed amount of funding."