China says defense budget to rise to $173 billion in 2018

China's finance ministry says that the country's defense budget this year will rise 6 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion).

The figure released Monday's report to the ceremonial National People's Congress is an increase of about $10 billion from last year. It puts China's defense budget as the world's second largest, behind the United States.

Despite slowing growth in its once-meteoric defense spending, China is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier, integrating cutting-edge stealth fighters into its air force and fielding a dizzying array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances.

On Sunday, Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the legislature, said China's defense spending as a share of GDP and the budget also remains lower than that of other major nations.