In break with past, China releases no exact defense budget

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.