China on Friday expressed its “firm opposition” to a United States report on its military, accusing Washington of “playing up” a Chinese military threat and provoking friction between China and its neighbours.
The Defence Ministry said China had lodged “solemn representations” with the U.S. and expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” about the August 24 Pentagon report.
The 94-page report, on “military and security developments” in China, said increasing assertiveness of the Chinese military, particularly over maritime territorial disputes, had worried China’s neighbours.
It said China was also beefing up its border security amid distrust in ties with India, putting in place “more advanced and survivable solid-fuelled” missiles to strengthen “its deterrent posture relative to India”.
Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement it was “normal” for the Chinese army “to develop and renew” weapons and equipment “given the progress of science and technology”.
He said China’s defence build-up was “solely to safeguard its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure smooth economic and social development, and does not target any country”.
The annual Pentagon report also noted that despite an improvement in cross-strait relations, Taiwan remained the “main strategic direction” of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its modernisation.
“The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts,” Mr. Yang said, adding that it had “played up the so-called Chinese mainland’s “military threat” to Taiwan, and made groundless claims on China’s policies on space and network security.”
“China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature,” he said.
Chinese military analysts hit out at the annual report, accusing the Pentagon of “provoking friction” between China and its neighbours.
Li Jie, an expert with the Naval Research Institute at the PLA Navy, told the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper “the report had misrepresented China’s military development”.
“The U.S. has been always observing China through tainted glasses, and spares no expense in studying China’s military development every year and playing the ‘China threat’ trick,” he said. “This year’s issue touched Beijing’s core interests in the East and South China Sea, which indicated Washington’s plan to reinforce its dominance in the region and restrict China by provoking friction between China and its neighbours.”
“For many in China, it is strange that the Pentagon, whose expenditure reached nearly $700 billion and accounted for over 40 per cent of the world’s total in 2010, routinely points its finger at China, whose military only spends a small fraction of what the Pentagon does,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.
In an editorial, the Global Times attacked the Pentagon as a “bastion” of mistrust. “As the world shifts toward a multi-polar power structure, the Pentagon report wrongly paints a picture of Sino-U.S. confrontation,” it said. “It is sowing the seeds for potential future conflicts.”