Beijing blasts Pentagon report on Chinese military as damaging trust

By Reuters   May 15, 2016 | 02:24 pm GMT+7
Beijing blasts Pentagon report on Chinese military as damaging trust
A student puts a red scarf on a statue of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in the Chinese Heroes Statues Plaza, which displays war heroes of the War of Resistance against Japan, at Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Anren, Sichuan Province, China, May 13, 2016. Tucked away in southwestern China's Sichuan province, a private collector stands virtually alone in exhibiting relics from the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the political movement, with no official commemorations planned. Official records whitewash the details of both periods, but admit that Mao made major mistakes. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

China condemned the U.S. Defense Department's annual report on the Chinese military on Sunday, calling it deliberate distortion that has "severely damaged" mutual trust.

In its annual report to Congress on Chinese military activities, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday that China is expected to add substantial military infrastructure, including communications and surveillance systems, to artificial islands in the South China Sea this year.

China's Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun expressed "strong dissatisfaction" and "firm opposition" to the Pentagon report and said it has "severely damaged mutual trust", state news agency Xinhua reported.

The report "hyped up" China's military threat and lack of transparency, "deliberately distorted" Chinese defense policies and "unfairly" depicted Chinese activities in the East and South China seas, Yang was quoted as saying.

"China follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," Yang said, adding that the country's military build-up and reforms are aimed at maintaining sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and guaranteeing China's peaceful development.

It is the United States that has always been suspicious and flexing its military muscle by frequently sending military aircraft and warships to the region, Yang said.

Despite its calls for freedom of navigation and restraint for peace, the U.S. has pushed forward militarisation of the South China Sea with an "intention to exert hegemony", Yang added.

Reclamation work 

The Pentagon report said the planned addition of military infrastructure would give China long-term "civil-military bases" in the contested waters.

It estimated that China's reclamation work had added more than 3,200 acres (1,300 hectares) of land on seven features it occupied in the Spratly Islands in the space of two years.

The report said China had completed its major reclamation efforts in October, switching focus to infrastructure development, including three 9,800 foot-long (3,000 meter) airstrips that can accommodate advanced fighter jets.

Yang, the spokesman, defended the construction, saying it serves mostly civilian purposes and helps fulfil China's international responsibilities and obligations by providing more public goods.

The Pentagon report comes at a time of heightened tension over maritime territories claimed by China and disputed by several Asian nations. Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased U.S. naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

The U.S report renewed accusations against China's government and military for cyber attacks against U.S. government computer systems, a charge Beijing denies. The Pentagon said attacks in 2015 appeared focused on intelligence collection.

Tags: China Pentagon
 
 
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