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China rejects US criticism over military strength

China rejects US criticism over military strength

Chinese military officials have rejected criticism by Washington that China's rising military power is focused on countering the United States and said U.S. pressure was behind Australia's bid to boost its defense spending.
U.S. officials have increasingly spoken out about China's military spending and the country's lack of transparency. Australia announced last Saturday that it would buy 100 state-of-the-art U.S. jet fighters and double the size of its modest submarine fleet to keep pace with military spending in Asia.
China said the U.S. was behind Canberra's move.
"The U.S. has successfully coaxed Australia into approving a military budget of $70 billion to boost its defenses over the next 20 years," the Global Times quoted Zhang Zhaozhong, a rear admiral in the People's Liberation Army Navy, as saying Wednesday.
An unidentified Chinese Defense Ministry official, meanwhile, told the newspaper that recent remarks by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, "irresponsible and worked to the disadvantage of the development of Sino-US military relations."
Earlier this week, Mullen said China's increasing military strength seemed to be focused on counterbalancing America's presence in Asia.
"They are developing capabilities that are very maritime focused, maritime and air focused, and in many ways, very much focused on us," Mullen said in Washington. "They seem very focused on the United States Navy and our bases that are in that part of the world."
His comments came after a number of confrontations between Chinese vessels and U.S. Navy surveillance ships in the Pacific in what has become almost a routine cat-and-mouse game on the seas. There have been four incidents in the past month _ the most recent Friday _ where Chinese-flagged fishing vessels maneuvered very close to two unarmed U.S. ships crewed by civilians and used by the Pentagon to do underwater surveillance and submarine hunting missions, two Pentagon officials said.
U.S. Defense officials have called the Chinese maneuvers dangerous and say they could lead to escalating problems.
Mullen acknowledged that "every country in the world has got a right to develop their military as they see fit to provide for their own security" but suggested the U.S. and its allies needed to cooperate to figure out a way to work with China to avoid miscalculations.
Beijing has bristled at the criticism, saying its military spending was on par with its economic growth and defense needs, and its budget remains only a fraction of the Pentagon's.
"The U.S. has to create an imaginary enemy to find excuses to develop its military might," Li Jie, a military expert on the Navy, was quoted as saying in the Global Times, which is connected to the Communist Party's People's Daily. "How on earth can China threaten the U.S.?"
Last year, China announced a military budget of $61 billion, up nearly 18 percent over the previous year. It was the 18th year of double-digit growth of military spending in the past 19 years. China's spending, which puts it on par with Japan, Russia and Britain, is still dwarfed by U.S. military expenditures, which are nearly 10 times as large.


Updated : 2021-04-12 15:57 GMT+08:00