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China Says 2010 Defense Budget To Rise 7.5 Percent

China's military budget for 2010 will rise 7.5 percent over last year.

National People's Congress spokesman Li Zhaoxing said the increase would bring the defense budget for the year to 532.1 billion yuan.

That compares to 480.7 billion spent on defense in 2009.

It is the first time in more than 15 years that China has announced less than a double-digit percentage increase.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China jumped to second place on the list of the world's biggest military spenders in 2008, behind only the United States.

The institute said China's estimated military spending reached $85 billion, one-seventh of the estimated U.S. spending.

But some analysts say China's real defense spending could be as much as three times higher.

The announcement comes a day before the 3,000-member National People's Congress is due to convene for 10 days to debate and approve the national budget.

compiled from agency reports