(Reuters) - China's Defence Ministry expressed concern on Thursday at the Pentagon's updated cyber strategy that stresses the U.S. military's ability to retaliate with cyber weapons, saying this would only worsen tension over Internet security.
The strategy presents a potentially far more muscular role for the U.S. military's cyber warriors than the Pentagon was willing to acknowledge in its last strategy rollouts in 2011 and singles out threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
China is frequently accused by the United States and its allies of engaged in widespread hacking attacks, charges Beijing always vociferously denies.
Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that as the world's most technologically advanced nation when it came to the Internet, the United States was only worsening tension over cybersecurity with its new strategy.
"This will further exacerbate contradictions and up the ante on the Internet arms race. We are concerned and worried about this," Geng said.
The United States should stop blackening China's name when it came to cybersecurity, and was in any case hypocritical in its criticism because of the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism snooping program, he added.
The militaries of the world's two largest economies have had a rocky relationship despite efforts by both sides to improve ties.
Geng also took aim at recent drills between the United States and the Philippines in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway 90 percent of which is claimed by China.
Large-scale drills will only create tension and are not helpful for regional peace and stability, he said.
"In the present situation, with the holding of such large-scale drills, we have to ask, who is it really who is creating regional tensions, and who is it really threatening regional peace and stability?"