China on Thursday accused the United States of distorting facts in a Defense Department report on Beijing’s military power.
The report — called the “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China” — said the country is developing longer-range ballistic and anti-ship missiles that are “shifting the balance of power in the region.” Such military expansions could help Beijing secure resources or settle territorial disputes, said the report, released by the Pentagon on Wednesday. “This is a gross distortion of the facts and China resolutely opposes it,” ministry spokesman Qin Gang told journalists in Beijing. “This report issued by the U.S. side continues to play up the fallacy of China’s military threat,” he said. The Pentagon report said China continues to build up short-range missiles and increase its “coercive capabilities” against Taiwan. It suggests that such moves constitute an effort to pressure Taiwan into settling the cross-strait dispute in favor of China, though tensions between the two governments have receded over the past year.
Pentagon: China’s military expanding capabilities
The report is the Pentagon’s annual briefing to Congress on the status of the communist country’s military might. It comes after a recent incident in which Chinese ships, including a Chinese navy vessel, confronted an unarmed U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the South China Sea in international waters. The confrontation prompted the United States to move a destroyer ship to the area to protect the surveillance vessel. While the report does not discuss the incident, it notes the importance China puts on controlling its waterways and the surrounding territories because “China’s economic and political power is contingent upon access to and use of the sea, and that a strong navy is required to safeguard such access.” The analysis also said that while much of China’s capability is more for regional disputes, it did send two destroyers and one supply ship off the coast of Africa to protect Chinese vessels from pirate attacks. That move was a sign of Chinese intent to expand its militaries to protect expanding economic and political interests around the world, according to a China analyst.
“The Chinese military is being told to develop capabilities to deal with Chinese national interests beyond the pure defense of Chinese territory,” said David Finklestein, the Director of China Studies for CNA, a nonprofit research group that does analysis for the U.S. military and other clients. “China, with a global economy, now obviously has global political interests and clearly has expanding global security interests.”