China urged the United States to view China's military construction rationally and objectively amid a new report claiming China and Russia as the top threats to the US military, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
"China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea," according to unclassified pages of the 2018 US National Defense Strategy published on Friday.
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, the Defense Ministry spokesman, responded in a statement on Saturday, saying the US report hypes Chinese threats, is full of false assertions regarding competition and is another report overflowing with Cold War mentality after the National Security Strategy Report was published in December.
"China resolutely follows the path of peaceful development and upholds a defensive national defense policy," Ren said, adding China does not seek military expansion or a sphere of influence.
"China has and always will be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a protector of international order," he said. "Unlike countries who seek global dominance, China is not interested in dominance, so the label of seeking global dominance cannot be forced upon China."
In addition, he said, "China peacefully building necessary defense facilities in the South China Sea is within the rights of its sovereignty, yet some countries do not like the current peaceful development in the region and keep hyping up Chinese military threats."
On Wednesday, US guided missile destroyer USS Hopper entered waters around China's Huangyan Island without authorization. The Chinese Navy quickly dispatched CNS Huangshan guided missile frigate to identify the US vessel and warned it to leave, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
"Those countries who take 'freedom of navigation' as a way of flexing muscles and stirring troubles are the real causes of militarization in the region," Ren said.
"Peace and progress are the trend of the era, and we sincerely hope the US can abandon its Cold War mentality, and follow the big trend of the time," Ren said.
"We urge the US military to view China's defense and military construction rationally and objectively, fulfill the important consensus reached by the top leaders from both countries, and become a stable factor for Sino-US relations."
The Chinese embassy in Washington also responded to the US report in a statement on Friday evening, saying people are destined to see confrontation if they view the world through a Cold War, zero-sum game mindset.
"We hope that the US can align itself with the trend of the world and the will of the people, and put the world and China-US relations into the perspective of cooperation," the embassy said.
Teng Jianqun, director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the new report represents a strategic shift by the US from tackling global issues such as terrorism and climate change to focusing on buttressing American interests and influence.
"Reports with similar Cold War rhetoric have emerged so many times since the Trump administration took office that it has become cliche," he said. "Competitions between China and the US are inevitable, but what is more important is to look forward and find new grounds to build cooperation."
Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the new report "appears to be a pastiche of slogans masquerading as a strategy."
"What I see is a wish list for ways to regain global dominance without a road map to get there," he added.