China says it will increase its defense spending by seven to eight percent this year, following years of double-digit increases in military spending.
A spokeswoman for China's parliament, Fu Ying, told reporters Friday the exact figure will be released Saturday after parliament opens its annual session.
China has piled resources into defense over the past two decades as it asserts its territorial claims in the South China Sea. Last year Beijing increased its military spending by 10.1 percent, bringing it to $136 billion.
That figure is about one-quarter of the amount the United States spent on defense last year.
China critics, however, say Beijing spends more on defense than it reports.
FILE - Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, which is known in China as the Xisha Islands, Jan. 29, 2016.