China on Sunday said a US report had deliberately distorted facts about its defence policies and unfairly depicted Beijing’s activities in the South and East China seas, “severely damaging” trust between the two major powers.
The annual report of the US Defence Department had also said that China was increasing its troop presence along the disputed border with India. The Chinese reaction did not specifically mention India but dismissed the report in its entirety.
Defence ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun expressed “strong dissatisfaction” and “firm opposition” to the report, saying it misrepresented China's military development.
Yang said the report hyped “China's military threat” and “the so-called lack of transparency,” deliberately distorted China's defence policies, and unfairly depicted China's activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea, state media reported.
The US annual report on China's military and security developments has severely damaged mutual trust between the two sides, Yang said, urging the US to take tangible actions to promote the healthy and stable development of relations between the two countries and their armed forces, official news agency Xinhua reported.
“China follows a national defence policy that is defensive in nature. Moves such as deepening military reforms and the military buildup are aimed at maintaining sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and guaranteeing China's peaceful development,” Xinhua quoted Yang as saying.
The release of the US report coincided with a Chinese state media report s that Beijing had elevated the Tibet command area and brought it directly under the control of ground forces of the People’s Liberation Army with an eye on a possible conflict with India.
The Pentagon report , released on Friday, had said that China was building military infrastructure, including communications and surveillance systems, on artificial islands in the South China Sea.
China's military had also been using “coercive tactics” to foster tensions with its neighbours, but will ensure they do not snowball into outright conflict, said the report titled 'Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China.'
A US official spoke about the India-China border at the release of the report. “We have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India ,” US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia Abraham Denmark said while submitting the report to the US Congress.
“It's difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain internal stability, and how much of it is an external consideration.”
In his reaction to the report, Yang said China's construction on the Nansha Islands serves mostly civilian purposes, and helps fulfil its international responsibilities and obligations by providing more public goods, Xinhua reported,
“It is the US that’s been flexing military muscles by frequently sending military aircraft and warships to the region. Despite its call for the freedom of navigation and restraint for peace, the United States pushed forward the militarisation in the South China Sea with an intention to exert hegemony,” Yang said.