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Chinese media blasts Pentagon report

China's ruling Communist Party's newspaper expresses resentment on a Pentagon report which accuses China of increasing its military strenght.

world Updated: May 27, 2007 16:28 IST

Chinese state media on Sunday blasted a Pentagon report on Beijing's defence plans as misleading and insulting, and said China had to pursue military modernisation to avoid falling further behind the United States.

The US Defense Department report released on Friday said that while Beijing remained focused on the Taiwan Strait as a potential flashpoint, it also appeared to be looking to project its growing military strength elsewhere.

Beijing has yet to give a formal reaction to the report, but the ruling Communist Party's newspaper and other state media signaled China's rancor.

While Beijing and Washington have been cooperating on North Korea and other international crises, the tough words underscored the distrust that overshadows military perceptions on both sides.

"This report continues to make outrageous comments about China's security and military strategy and its military capabilities, and attacks China's defense and military modernisation," said a commentary in the People's Daily.

"The report ignores the facts, deliberately exaggerates the so-called Chinese military threat, and is totally unsupportable."

The Pentagon's annual report to the US Congress on China's military power said Beijing maintained its traditional focus on the Taiwan Strait, the self-ruled island divided from mainland rule since 1949, which Beijing says must accept 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 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," said the People's Daily.

The 2007 annual report again seeks to mislead international opinion by using erroneous claims."

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, said a commentary on the Web site of the Xinhua news agency.

"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 cited US intelligence estimates that China's total military-related spending for 2007 could really 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.

"The United States is advancing its military transformation with great fanfare, seeking an absolute military advantage," said the People's Daily.