Wednesday, August 18, 2010

China Lashes Out At Pentagon Military Report

China hit out Wednesday at a Pentagon report on its expanding military capabilities as other Asian nations said they would be keeping a wary eye on their giant neighbour's growing might.

Beijing said the US Defence Department report was "not beneficial" for military ties between the two major powers, while state media branded the dossier "aggressive" and said it exaggerated the power of China's armed forces.

Geng Yansheng, spokesman for China's defence ministry, insisted the country was on a "path of peaceful development".

"Issuing this report is not beneficial for the improvement and development of Sino-US military ties," he said in a statement.

The Pentagon report to the US Congress said China's military strategists were looking to extend their reach to be able to hit targets as far away as mainland Japan, the Philippines and the US territory of Guam.

Beijing was ramping up investment in a range of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare, according to the report published Monday.

Taiwan responded on Tuesday by renewing its call for the United States to sell it advanced weaponry, and joined Japan in vowing to keep a close eye on China's rising military strength.

But China demanded that Washington stop issuing such reports. "China... firmly abides by a defensive national defence policy, does not take part in military confrontation and does not pose a military threat to any country," Geng said.

"We ask the United States... to stop remarks and behaviour that are not beneficial for mutual trust between the two militaries and Sino-US relations."

China's state-run media carried a barrage of comments from experts on the issue, blasting what they called an "aggressive" Pentagon report.

Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defence University, told the Global Times: "The interfering nature of the report remains unchanged. It will surely draw discontent from China over its exaggeration of its military power."

China's military expa as the world's second largest economy in the second quarter and the international community has been pushing China to take a more active role in addressing issues such as climate change and trade imbalances.

The Pentagon said China's military build-up in the Taiwan Strait had "continued unabated", despite better ties with the China-friendly government in Taipei which has been in power since 2008.

Taiwan on Tuesday repeated its call for the United States to sell it advanced F16 jet fighters and diesel submarines in the face of China's much stronger military.

Earlier this year, Beijing reacted angrily to an arms deal between Washington and Taiwan, saying it would cut military and security contacts with the United States.

"China has not given up the use of force against Taiwan and we are closely monitoring China's military developments. We ask the public to rest assured," Taiwan defence ministry spokesman Yu Sy-tue said.

Beijing considers Taiwan, where the mainland's defeated nationalists fled in 1949 at the end of a bloody civil war, to be part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Following the report, Tokyo said it would "keep paying attention to China's military trend".

"It will have a significant impact on security in the region, including Japan, and on the international community," a Japanese defence ministry spokeswoman said.

Japan and Vietnam, which both have historic tensions with China, have reported incidents with China's military in recent months and the Pentagon predicted Beijing may step up patrols in the South China Sea.

Against this backdrop, the United States and Vietnam -- former foes who only normalised diplomatic ties 15 years ago -- held their first high-level defence dialogue on Tuesday.

Hanoi and Beijing are involved in a territorial dispute over islands in the South China Sea.

Last month China reacted angrily after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said resolution of those territorial rows -- which also involve other nations -- was "pivotal" to regional stability.

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