China buildup puts military balance in region at risk, says Rumsfeld

06.05.2005, 04:57 AM

SINGAPORE (AFX) - US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Saturday that China is spending considerably more on a major military buildup than officially acknowledged and asked why it had so many missiles aimed at Taiwan.

A Pentagon study due to be released later this month concludes that China's defense budget is now the largest in Asia and third largest in the world, he said.

China earlier this year announced a 12.6 pct increase in military spending to 244.65 bln yuan.

'Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: why this growing investment? Rumsfeld asked. 'Why these continuing large weapons purchases?'

Rumsfeld delivered the warning, one of the bluntest yet by a senior US official, to an audience of Asian defense ministers and military experts gathered here for an annual international security conference.

The head of the Chinese delegation, foreign ministry official Cui Tiankai, asked Rumsfeld: 'Do you truly believe that China is under no threat whatsoever from any part of the world? And do you truly believe that the United States felt threatened by the so-called emergence of China?'

Rumsfeld said he knew of no country that threatened China, and added: 'The answer is, no, we don't feel threatened by the emergence of China.'

'If everyone is agreed that the situation between the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan is going to be resolved in a peaceful way then one has to ask why this significant increase in ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan,' he said.