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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 21:53 GMT
China labels US 'nosy neighbour'
Chinese soldiers. File photo
China says it spent $36.6bn on its armed forces in 2006
China has hit back at the US over calls for greater transparency in Beijing's military spending.

It comes a week after US Vice-President Dick Cheney said China's military build-up and satellite tests were at odds with its stated peaceful aims.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry in Beijing accused the US of acting like a nosy neighbour.

China's policies were aimed only at defence, said Qin Gang, rejecting claims of opaque spending policies.

"What's your response if your neighbour keeps peeking into your house through a crack in the door and yelling 'Open the door, let's see what's inside'?" Mr Qin said.

"Will you call the police?"

Limited praise

Mr Cheney's criticism of Beijing came during a visit to Australia.

He said China's destruction of an inactive weather satellite last month, as well as its "continued fast-paced military build-up are less constructive, and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise".

Mr Cheney did have praise, however, for China's role in a nuclear deal with North Korea committing Pyongyang to shut down key nuclear facilities.

Beijing has said the anti-satellite test was for scientific purposes only, but critics saw it as a demonstration of China's growing military power.

Mr Qin sought to allay the fears over its military intentions.

"China adheres to peaceful development and advocates a harmonious society of lasting peace and common prosperity," he said.

"That's what has allowed China to win trust, co-operation and friends in the world."

China says its military budget rose by 14.7% last year to $36.6bn (18.6bn), but the US and other observers believe the actual figure may be two or three times that amount.

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