China continues to increase military spending. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government has announced a big bump in spending on the armed forces, saying it will increase its defense budget by 12.2 percent this year to $132 billion.

The figure was included in a budget report released at annual meetings of the country’s national rubberstamp legislature that opened Wednesday.

Defense spending rose 10 percent last year to 720 billion yuan ($114 billion), the most for any nation apart from the U.S.

China says it supports resolving disputes through negotiations and that its 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army is for defensive purposes only.

China and its neighbors have been in disputes over the control of islands and sea lanes in surrounding oceans. There has been a sharp escalation of tensions with Japan in the past 18 months.