china military
Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army march before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at Beijing's Tiananmen Square on March 3, 2015. China will ramp up its defense spending by about 10 percent in 2015, bringing its total military budget to nearly $145 billion. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

China’s state media is firing back at the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual report on the state of China’s military. A Chinese military expert says American concern over China’s military ambitions are being inflated to be a global threat.

“The U.S. side made groundless accusations against national defense, military affairs, space, network, military transparency and Taiwan issues,” Zhang Junshe, a People’s Liberation Army senior captain and the vice president of China’s Naval Research Institute, said in a People’s Daily op-ed. Zhang accused the Department of Defense report of distorting China’s military intentions of “peaceful development strategy” and “safeguard actions” when it comes to disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea in an effort to interfere with Chinese affairs. Earlier this month, China's government took the official position that the country's military operations and presence in the disputed area is to boost search and rescue abilities in the event of a regional crisis.

The Defense Department’s annual report, released earlier this week, describes China’s military modernization as an effort to equip the country to fight “short-duration, high-intensity” conflicts in the region.

“China’s military modernization has the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages,” the report read, citing China’s consistently increasing military budget from 2005 to 2014. “China is investing in capabilities designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party -- including the U.S. -- intervention during crisis or conflict.”

Zhang says the U.S. ignores military threats and provocations from America's regional allies when it comes to disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea. “No mention is made about the provocative actions of Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in this report,” Zhang says. “It accuses China of striving for maritime sovereignty by intimidation and threatening other countries.

“[The] U.S. has been issuing this military report on China for 16 years. The prejudice and hostility of the report causes serious harm to bilateral relations. China urges the U.S. to stop using such reports to play up the ‘China threat.’ ”

China has in fact made significant changes and improvements to its military technology and manpower in recent years as part of an effort by President Xi Jinping to overhaul the military. Consequently, these advances are being taken seriously despite attempts by Chinese military figures to defuse the attention.

U.S. officials announced yesterday that it was considering deploying aircraft and ships to the disputed area in the South China Sea in response to China's military presence. China’s continued dredging and construction of man-made islands in the area has been a point of contention between China, Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations that lay full or partial claim to the area.