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International relations

China's defense budget shows determination to rival US forces

Faster naval and air force buildup stokes concern over new arms race

China aims to turn its military into a first-rate fighting force by mid-century.

BEIJING -- China is stepping up its defense spending at a quicker rate this year, according to a budget unveiled on Monday at the annual National People's Congress. The move suggests President Xi Jinping is intent on building a military that can rival U.S. forces, heightening the risk of a renewed global arms race.

The country has budgeted 1.1 trillion yuan ($174 billion) for defense this year, 62.5 billion yuan more than in 2017. This 8.1% increase will go mainly toward equipment, training and improving the welfare of personnel, according to Chen Zhou, research fellow at China's Academy of Military Science. The budget also marks the first acceleration in defense spending growth since 2014.

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