The Chinese government has dismissed as unjust a report by the US Pentagon that Beijing is involved in aggressive espionage to build up China's military might.
Beijing voiced its "firm opposition" on Saturday of a US Pentagon report claiming that "Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpertrators of economic espionage."
China rejected the report as irresponsible, saying the United States was spreading a theory about a "China military threat." Beijing urged Washington to "respect facts, change its mindset and stop its wrongdoing in issuing similar reports year after year."
"China is committed to maintaining and promoting the peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and even the world," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.
The annual report by the Pentagon on China's military also concluded that the country spent up to $180 billion (141 billion euros) on its military buildup - far more than the official figure of $106 billion released by Beijing for 2012. The US has set aside $600 billion for its own defense budget for 2013.
Threat to US security
Although the report stopped short of explicitly naming the Chinese government as perpetrators, it stated that "Chinese attempts to collect US technological and economic information will continue at a high level and will represent a growing and persistent threat to US economic security."
China has demonstrated its long-term military ambitions with new equipment, including the first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011 and the launch of trials last August of the Varyag, a former Soviet aircraft carrier that had never been completed.
The Pentagon noted that some components of China's first home-made aircraft carrier may already be under construction and could achieve operational capability after 2015.
"China likely will build multiple aircraft carriers and associated support ships over the next decade," it said. It would be 2018 before China's stealth fighter would have "operational capability," said Helvey.
ng/ipj (AFP, Reuters)