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Pentagon report concerned over china military rise { July 20 2005 }

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China blasts U.S. concerns on its military rise

Wednesday, July 20, 2005; 11:24 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Wednesday blasted a Pentagon report asserting that its fast-modernizing military could pose a threat to the region, saying that the United States, the world's biggest defense spender, had no ground to stand on.

The U.S. Department of Defense report, made public on Tuesday, reflects concern in Washington over China's growing military and economic might, and in particular the fear that a changing balance of power in Asia could threaten Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own.

"The report groundlessly attacks China's military modernization and makes unwarranted charges about China's normal national defense building and military deployments," Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a statement.

It "ignores the facts, spares no effort to spread the 'China threat theory', rudely interferes in China's internal affairs," Yang was quoted as saying on the Foreign Ministry's Web site,

The Pentagon report said Beijing's military buildup had already begun to change the regional balance of power but added that its ability to project conventional power was limited and that China lacked the capability to re-take Taiwan by force.

Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China. In March it passed an anti-secession law authorizing the use of "non-peaceful means" to bring it back into the fold should the island democracy of 23 million move toward formal independence.

The Taiwan issue puts the United States in a quandary, with Washington having vowed to help the island defend itself, but also recognizing Beijing as China's sole legitimate government.

Yang noted that the U.S. military budget was almost 18 times that of Beijing's official military budget of about $26 billion. Outside analysts say China's actual outlay is far higher, and the Pentagon has put 2003 military spending as high as $65 billion.

"What authority does the United States have to gesticulate about and make improper comments on China's defensive national defense policy and measures?" he said.

He called on the United States to "respect the facts, correct its errors, stop gratuitously attacking China, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, stop its words and deeds that damage Sino-U.S. relations."

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing dismissed the Pentagon report and said China's rise would be peaceful.

"China, remember, will continue to pursue a path of peaceful development," Li said at a ceremony to establish the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Beijing.

"China not only poses no threat to anyone, we also are willing to establish friendship and all kinds of win-win cooperation with other countries to push forward cooperative development," he said in response to a question about the report.

Last week, a Chinese general was quoted as saying China was ready to use nuclear weapons against the United States should Washington attack over Taiwan, remarks U.S. officials criticized as "irresponsible."

China also shrugged off on Wednesday an agreement earlier this week in which Washington promised India full cooperation in developing its civilian nuclear power program without demanding that it sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The agreement was seen as a counterbalance to China's rise, but the Foreign Ministry had little reaction.

"We hope the relevant cooperation between China and India will benefit the safeguarding of peace and stability in the Asian region," it said in a statement faxed to Reuters.

2005 Reuters

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