China’s Defense Ministry responded Saturday to a U.S. Defense Department report on its military objectives. In a statement released through China’s official Xinhua news agency, ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng said the annual report has “severely damaged” the progress made in building positive relations between the two global superpowers.
In its annual report to Congress, released Friday, the Pentagon warned about China’s “extensive” efforts in building artificial islands in disputed South China Sea waters claimed by neighboring nations, including “at least one airfield” in five outposts consisting of land built out of the sea on top of coral reefs. The Pentagon also said China has made considerable progress in expanding beyond its immediate zone of influence.
“Preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment; however, the [People's Republic of China] is increasing its emphasis on preparations for contingencies other than Taiwan, such as contingencies in the East China Sea and South China Sea,” the report said. “Additionally, as China’s global footprint and international interests grow, its military modernization program has become progressively more focused on investments for a range of missions beyond China’s periphery, including power projection, sea lane security, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.”
Last month, China slammed U.S. President Barack Obama for criticizing its South China Sea constructions, pointing out that the U.S. has far more military muscle.
"Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions," the U.S president said about China’s territorial claims. "We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn't mean that they can just be elbowed aside."
In its 2014 annual report, the U.S. Department of Defense focused on a series of naval exercises China conducted in waters the Philippines Sea. The 2013 report said China was placing a high priority on modernizing its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.