Hyping ‘China threat’ a US trick: analysts
China strongly opposes a Pentagon report that exaggerates China's military spending and distorts China's military developments.
China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference Wednesday that China strongly opposes the report as it goes against the facts, and makes improper comments on developments in China's military and territorial sovereignty.
"China pursues the path of peaceful development and a national defense policy. China's defense development is aimed at safeguarding state independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Hua said, urging the US to help maintain stable Sino-US ties with practical actions.
"China's military-related spending for 2016 exceeded $180 billion" and its defense budget is expected to increase yearly by an average of 7 percent, rising to $260 billion by 2020, according to the US Defense Department's 2017 China Military Power Report released on Tuesday.
It also warned of additional overseas Chinese military bases after the country completed its first such base in Djibouti, construction of which started in February 2016.
Hua condemned the report for mentioning additional overseas military bases in countries which have longstanding and friendly relationships with China, such as Pakistan.
"Pakistan is China's traditional friendly neighbor. The two sides have been cooperating in many fields for a long time. Our cooperation is not targeted at any third party and is conducted in accordance with our international commitments," Hua stressed.
Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday that overseas military bases are part of China's economic development in offshore maritime areas. It is meant to provide protection to an expanding group of Chinese people and companies overseas.
Xu said that the US is overly sensitive to China's development, which it deems as a threat to its global hegemony, adding that it's concerned China will outstrip it sooner or later.
An 'old US trick'
China's military budget for 2016 was 954.35 billion yuan ($146.67 billion), or around a quarter of the US' $573 billion defense budget that year.
National People's Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying said in March military spending is projected to grow by around 7 percent in 2017, which accounts for around 1.3 percent of China's GDP.
"It is an old US trick to use China's military expenses and developments to hype the 'China threat theory.' It is aimed at justifying its own high military spending to sustain domestic confidence," Xu said.
"Some spending on research and development in China is excluded from military expenses. It is not unusual that many projects and experiments in US universities and laboratories involving military technology are also categorized as civil use," Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.
The US also wants to encourage China's neighboring countries to increase military spending to contain China's development, Xu added.
According to the 2016 Jane's Defense Budgets Report, the US defense budget rose to $622 billion from $615.7 billion in 2015, or about 40 percent of global defense spending.
The Pentagon report accuses China of using various methods, including cyber theft, to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies to support its military modernization.
It cites the world's first quantum science satellite launched by China in August 2016.
"These accusations are totally groundless. China's quantum satellite is meant to protect its own cyber security, and not to attack others," Li said.