China has announced it will increase its defence budget by 12.7 per cent this year.
But officials in Beijing said on Friday that a return to double-digit military growth is not a threat to other countries.
The increase would put China's 2011 military budget at almost $92bn. But the plan must be rubber-stamped by the National People's congress, which begins its five-yearly meeting on Saturday.
"Since the NPC session has not yet formally opened, I would like to stress the word 'if', that is is approved by the upcoming NPC session the defence budget for the year 2011 will be around 601.1 billion yuan," Li said.
Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan has more on the focus of this year's meeting, which she reports is one of the few times of the year when China's leaders make major announcements.