China slams US accusation of arms build-up threat

Tue Jun 7, 2005 6:14 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - China dismissed a U.S. accusation that it was undergoing a military build-up that might change the balance of power in Asia on Tuesday and said such comments threatened world peace.

(Gold9472: We DO NOT want to go to war with China. Anyone in Washington who promotes war with China should be hung by the gallows.)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused China on Saturday of expanding its missile forces and capabilities and enhancing its ability to project power at a time when it faced no threat.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said China was a force for stability in the region and pointed out that Beijing's military spending was a fraction of that of the United States.

"Any words or deeds that create and hype up a Chinese military threat are unfavorable to peace and stability of the region and the world," Liu told a news conference.

"We hope the U.S. side will respect this fact and do more that is conducive to the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations, to the enhancement of mutual trust among Asia-Pacific nations and to peace and stability of the region."

The Pentagon has raised the alarm over China's military modernisation for several years, and the Defense Department is preparing to release its annual assessment of Beijing's military expenditure.

Last year, it said China had expanded its military build-up with more sophisticated missiles, satellite-disrupting lasers and underground facilities, all aimed at winning a possible conflict with Taiwan and exerting power.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of Chinese territory and has vowed to bring the self-governed democracy of 23 million people back to the fold, by force if necessary. The United States recognizes the mainland as China's sole legitimate government, but it is also obliged by law to help Taiwan defend itself.

The Pentagon said in a 2004 annual report Beijing spent between $50 billion and $70 billion on defense, third behind the United States and Russia, but Liu, said the allegation was wrong and that any increases were mostly to improve the living conditions of the army.

"China has neither the intentions nor the capability to drastically increase its military build-up," he said.