Military delegates arrive for the second plenary session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 8, 2017. Is there a new military arms race between China and the U.S.? The Chinese increase in defense spending has been explained. Reuters

The United States and China had recently sparred over a number of issues: cyber warfare, North Korea’s nuclear proliferation, economics, the South China Sea and several others. Because of those problems, speculation has increased over the possibility of an arms race between Washington and Beijing.

However, an expert insisted during a new interview that the expansion of China’s military had been part of a long-term plan and was not related to the U.S.’ plan to increase military spending, Sputnik reported Thursday.

"As for expectations pertaining to a significant increase in China's military budget, this is reflected in the allegations made by a number of Chinese experts and some media outlets. I think that this is only speculation that since the US plans to boost its military spending, China should follow suit. But, in my opinion, this stance is not quite true," Fudan University Center for U.S. Studies expert Wang Xiaofeng told Sputnik China.

Reports surfaced Saturday that China planned to increase its military spending by 7 percent this year and many speculated it was due to President Donald Trump’s call for more defense spending. Last week Trump called for a $54 billion increase in the Defense Department’s budget, or nearly 10 percent, for a military that had continually spent more than most other countries combined for decades.

However, a Chinese government spokesperson said the increase will account for 1.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, roughly the same it has been for the last several years, according to BBC News.

Furthermore, other experts have noted that China’s projected increase would be the lowest since 2000 and that the 7 percent jump was more of a calculated attempt to show the world it was not engaged in an arms race with the U.S.

“China’s defence budget was decided by its comprehensive national strength, including the country’s strategic needs and domestic economic development,” Chinese naval expert Li Jie told South China Morning Post. “It’s a norm that will not be changed, no matter how much the US increases its military spending.”