Chinese media blast Pentagon report
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese state media on Sunday blasted a Pentagon report on Beijing's defense plans as distorted and insulting, and said the gap between wealthy countries' military might and China's is growing, not shrinking.
The US Defense Department report released on Friday said that while Beijing maintained its traditional focus on the Taiwan Strait as a potential flashpoint, it also seemed to be looking to project its growing military strength elsewhere.
Beijing has yet to give a formal reaction to the report, but official news Web sites signaled China's displeasure. While Beijing and Washington have been working closely on North Korea and other international crises, the tough words underscored the distrust that overshadows military perceptions on both sides.
"As with previous reports, this one makes outrageous comments about China's security and military strategy and its military capabilities," said the commentary which appeared on the Web sites of the Xinhua news agency (新华网-全球新闻网) and People's Daily (www.people.com.cn).
"This report is strikingly distorted about the 'Chinese military threat' and is really just too exaggerated."
The Pentagon's annual report to the US Congress on China's military power said that Beijing maintained its traditional focus on the Taiwan Strait, the self-ruled island that has been divided from mainland rule since 1949, which Beijing says must accept eventual reunification.
But the report stressed that China was looking beyond the island in making and buying weapons and crafting strategy.
"Analysis of China's military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also generating capabilities for other regional contingencies, such as conflict over resources or territory," the report said.
The report said new Chinese missile units could be used for crises not involving Taiwan and advances in China's air force would allow extended air operations over the South China Sea.
The Chinese counter-blast rejected these claims and said Beijing was far from feeling militarily secure.
"The report even more insultingly says that China, out of concern for energy needs, has been enhancing ties with countries that violate human rights, support international terrorism and engage in nuclear proliferation," the commentary said.
China is a vast, populous country that long stinted on defense spending, so it was natural for the government to channel more recourses to military modernization, it said.
"Our overall deterrent and war-fighting capabilities are still far from being able to suit national needs in responding to traditional and non-traditional security threats and challenges," it said.
"To a large extent, China's military gap with developed countries is not shrinking but continuing to expand."
In March, China said it would boost defense spending by 17.8 percent to about $45 billion in 2007. But the Pentagon report said the US Defense Intelligence Agency estimated China's real total military-related spending for 2007 could be between $85 billion and $125 billion.
The Bush administration had requested $484.1 billion for the Defense Department in the fiscal year starting from October 2007, a figure that does not include military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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