China plans to increase its military spending by 8.1% in 2018 in an effort to modernize its armed forces.
Beijing proposed spending 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion) on its military, according to its budget report presented ahead of the opening of China's 13th National People's Congress on March 5, 2018, according to Reuters.
Premier Li Kequiang said in his opening address that China will "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests."
He also said the military, the government, and its people must always be as "strong as stone."
PLA troops undergo live-fire exercises in Djibouti. Source: Government handout.
China's defense spending has increased following Xi's appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Operations Command in April 2016. The budget grew 7.6% in 2016, and 7% in 2017.
At the time he was appointed, experts said Xi's designation as Commander in Chief stressed his control over the country and its military power.
Xi has also pledged to modernize the army, promising to unveil a "world-class" armed forces by 2035.