Asia

In break with past, China releases no exact defense budget

  • From front left, Wang Qishan, Yu Zhengsheng, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and Liu Yunshan stand during the start of the opening session of China's annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

    From front left, Wang Qishan, Yu Zhengsheng, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and Liu Yunshan stand during the start of the opening session of China's annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Chief Executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee-hwa, lower right, and current Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, left at second row, attend the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Former Chief Executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee-hwa, lower right, and current Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, left at second row, attend the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Delegates attend the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Delegates attend the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Sunday, March 5, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

In a break with past practice, China has not provided a figure for its defense budget at the opening of its annual legislative session.

National People's Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying told reporters Saturday the budget would increase around 7 percent over last year. However, unlike in past reports, no exact figure was provided in the government budget report released at the congress' opening session Sunday.

The defense and finance ministries did not immediately respond to questions about the budget.

China has long chafed at calls from the U.S. and others to be more forthcoming about the goals of its military modernization program, under which the budget has grown by double digit percentages for most of the past two decades. Yet in recent decades, Beijing has always provided exact budget figures.