China’s defence ministry blasts Pentagon’s annual report

By Bernard Orr

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s defence ministry on Wednesday denounced the U.S. Defense Department’s annual report on China, saying it distorts the country’s security policy and military strategy.

Over the next decade, the People’s Republic of China will rapidly modernise, diversify, and expand its nuclear forces, the Pentagon said in its report to U.S. Congress, laying out China’s national ambitions, including its defence policy and military strategies.

The Pentagon said China has more than 500 nuclear warheads and will probably have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030. The report said China would use new fast-breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities to produce plutonium for its nuclear weapons, despite publicly saying the technologies are intended for peaceful purposes.

“We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this report,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said in a statement, adding that it “exaggerates and hypes the non-existent ‘Chinese military threat'”.

Wu said the development of China’s armed forces is aimed at containing the threat of war, safeguarding its own security and safeguarding world peace, and is not aimed at any specific country or target.

China and the United States have recently traded barbs over global and national security concerns, military interactions in the South China Sea and over Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

The Pentagon said in 2022 that China “amplified diplomatic, political, and military pressure against Taiwan”.

“The so-called report on China’s military power released by the United States is full of all kinds of wrong content, including the statement on the Taiwan issue,” a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said at a media briefing on Wednesday.

Calling the military-to-military relationship an important part of Sino-U.S. relations, the Defence Ministry’s Wu said, “we maintain frank and effective communication with the United States through military diplomacy”.

But he added the difficulties and obstacles facing relations between the two militaries are created by the United States.

“The United States pretends to be confused, while doing things that harm China’s security interests, but at the same time shouting that it wants to manage the crisis and strengthen communication,” Wu said.

The latest exchange between the two countries comes days before China hosts foreign defence officials at the 10th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing from Oct. 29 to 31.

The United States accepted China’s invitation after China turned down a meeting a few months ago between the two countries’ defence chiefs.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr; Editing by Gerry Doyle)