China says it will increase military spending by a "modest" 14.9% this year to 480.6 billion yuan ($US70.2 billion).
A Parliamentary spokesman said the money will pay for better salaries, modernisation and programmes such as counter-terrorism and disaster relief.
Li Zhaoxing said China's military is for self-protection and does not pose a threat to any country.
Analysts say defence spending is higher than the official figure, but Beijing says there are no hidden outlays.
The new military budget was issued on the eve of the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's parliament.
Li Zhaoxing described the increase as modest, saying that China wanted to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity "and would not threaten any country".