China Ready To Hit Back At US

Georg Schaeffler and Elisabeth Schaeffler Thumann

"It is conducive to uphold the authority of the Central Committee of the party with comrade Xi Jinping at the core and also to unify leadership", Zhang said on the eve of the opening of the NPC's annual session.

He said China defended and contributed to the current United Nations-centred global order, but also said some reforms were necessary.

The two nations agree to continue dialogue in Beijing, Zhang Yesui said at a briefing, without giving a timetable or names of officials to attend.

Zhang's comments follow a high-profile visit to the US last week by Liu He, the top economic advisor to present Xi Jinping, apparently aimed at defusing tensions surrounding bilateral trade disputes.

"In recent years, China has moderately raised defence investment", he told a news conference.

Zhang, however, did not address the question of numbers, saying instead that past increases by a "modest margin" had gone to equipment upgrades, training and improving welfare and living conditions for troops.

Xi said in his report at 19th CPC National Congress in October previous year that China was willing to share favorable circumstances regarding China's development with Taiwanese people and would expand economic and cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

Zhang said all countries adjusted their military spending depending on defensive needs and the state of the economy.

More news: WHITE HOUSE STAFFING: Spokeswoman says McMaster 'isn't going anywhere'

China will adhere to the path of "peaceful" development, Zhang said.

However, proportionally, China's defence spending is less than other major countries, he said.

With worries about potential disputes with the United States over the South China Sea and the status of self-ruled Taiwan, China's military had mounted what defence sources and diplomats viewed as a lobbying campaign for more spending.

Years of double-digit percentage growth have given China the world's second-largest defence budget after the United States, which is in a class of its own with a proposed budget of $716 billion for next year.

"What's alarming is not the non-reporting of largely fictitious defence spending figures so much as the Chinese leadership is shedding even the pretense of being open about its military plans", Jennings said in an email to The Associated Press.

China sought on Sunday to downplay the Communist Party's move to scrap presidential term limits, a decision that could pave the way for Xi Jinping to remain president for life.

All these concrete results fully demonstrate that the initiative has really responded to the trend for win-win cooperation and the shared aspiration for common development, he said.

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