The United States Department of Defense released an 83-page annual report to Congress, detailing China’s military developments.
The report focused on Beijing’s military efforts, such as its goals to develop a stealth aircraft, field another aircraft carrier and a fleet of jets to beef up military presence offshore, and painted the nation as a growing military aggressor.
China is firing back, saying its military developments are for defense purposes.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has responded with a commentary titled, “U.S. report on China’s military baseless, counterproductive.”
“The report invoked Cold War thinking and zero-sum game mentality, and misjudged the nature of China’s military investment,” the report said.
The Department of Defense repeatedly mentions China’s military investment in armed forces as meant to “fight and win short-duration, high-intensity regional military conflict.”
According to Chinese media, this ignores China’s previously declared commitment to keeping regional stability.
“The drafters ignored the fact that China has repeatedly stated the defensive nature of its national defense policy,” the report said.
“The latest of China’s white papers, issued last month, made it clear that its armed forces have always been a staunch force to uphold world peace and regional stability.”
The U.S. report went on to mention one of China’s ultra-sensitive topics, Taiwan.
“The report went further to interfere with China’s internal affairs by commenting on the situation across the Taiwan Straits, claiming ‘the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion, if necessary.’”
With that, the Chinese report claimed that such accusations made by the U.S. could threaten ties between the U.S. and China, and threaten peace among Asian countries.
“Washington could jeopardize mutual trust between the world’s two largest economies and create obstacles in the development of their relationship, one of the world’s most important dynamics.”
Additionally, China worries that highlighting its “alleged growing assertiveness” in nearby maritime territories could fuel tensions among nations that are engaged in territorial disputes with Beijing, potentially causing instability in various areas in the Pacific region.
The annual report has been requested by Congress beginning in 2000, and comes amid several territorial disputes in the East and South China seas. The report also comes on the heels of several back-and-forth allegations of hacking and espionage between the U.S. and China, which have already threatened Sino-American relations.