BEIJING (AP) — China's finance minister on Tuesday rejected accusations that the country is keeping its defense budget under wraps after the figure was omitted from an annual report released to the media.
The defense budget and budgets for foreign affairs and domestic security had been included in a draft submitted to members of China's rubberstamp parliament, Xiao said at a press conference on the margins of the annual 10-day legislative session.
"Let me be very clear, there is no such thing as opacity in China's military spending," ''We made some new changes in the way we compiled the files," he said, without giving any details on why the figures had not been publicly released.
A finance ministry official on Sunday told The Associated Press that the budget was rising 7 percent to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151 billion) this year, pushing it to its highest level ever, even while the rate of economic growth slows to its lowest this century.
The U.S. and others have routinely asked China to be more forthcoming about the goals of its ambitious military modernization program, under which the budget has grown by double-digit percentages for most of the past two decades.
China now has the world's second-largest defense budget, although it totals less than a quarter of what the U.S. spends.