BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China will lower its defense budget growth rate to 7.5 percent in 2019, from last year's 8.1 percent, according to a draft budget report to be submitted to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) opening Tuesday.
The 2019 defense budget will be 1.19 trillion yuan (about 177.61 billion U.S. dollars), figures from the report show.
The rate marks a fourth straight year for the budgeted growth rate to dip into the single digit since 2016, following five consecutive years of double-digit increases.
China's budgeted defense spending growth rate stood at 7.6 percent in 2016, 7 percent in 2017, and 8.1 percent in 2018.
Describing China's defense budget increase as reasonable and appropriate, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the annual session of the 13th NPC, said the raise aims to "meet the country's demand in safeguarding national security and military reform with Chinese characteristics."