China has described criticism of its military growth strategy by the United States as groundless and irresponsible
A defence ministry spokesman in Beijing said that China's military development is defensive, and a force for peace.
He rejected US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' comments that US naval carriers and air bases in the Pacific faced new threats from China's modernisation.
The war of words follows a resurgence of trade disputes between the two powers.
China said Washington should respect China's defence policy and correct its comments.
It also criticised an intelligence report that listed China as one of the main challengers to the US.
A spokesman for China's defence ministry said there was "not a scrap of truth" to the US view, and it was "extremely irresponsible".
China's military development is a "positive factor for regional peace and stability" and "defensive in nature," said spokesman Hu Changming in a press release.
Earlier this week, US National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said that China's military modernisation programme posed a threat and that China's involvement in cyber technology had become aggressive