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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Chinese media condemn US report
A Chinese soldier on a joint exercise in Pakistan in December 2006
China says the US report is an exaggeration
China's state media have hit out at a report by the US Department of Defense on Beijing's military build-up.

The People's Daily - the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper - said the document was misleading, one-sided and could harm bilateral ties.

The Pentagon's report, issued on Friday, expressed concern over China's growing military might and called for greater transparency over its spending.

The Beijing government has not formally reacted to it so far.

However the People's Daily wrote: "This report continues to make outrageous comments about China's security and military strategy and its military capabilities, and attacks China's defence and military modernisation."

"The report ignores the facts, deliberately exaggerates the so-called Chinese military threat, and is totally unsupportable."

'No threat'

The Pentagon report said that China was spending far more on its military than it had admitted.

A Chinese military officer trains a line of new recruits (January 2007)
The US believes China is spending more on its military than it admits

It highlighted China's greater ability to mount pre-emptive strikes, citing new submarines, unmanned combat aircraft and sophisticated missiles.

It also said that Beijing was building up its capabilities with an eye on "regional contingencies, such as conflict over resources or territory", in addition to its traditional focus on Taiwan.

But the People's Daily said that China maintained "a certain level of military strength out of an objective need for self defence" and did not pose a threat to any country.

Over the last 15 years, China has been engaged in a massive military build-up and modernisation programme.

The government said in March it was increasing military spending by 17.8% in 2007.

It plans to allocate 350.9bn yuan ($45.9bn) to the military this year, although some analysts say Beijing spends double or treble this amount.

But China points out that this expenditure still lags far behind the US.

The BBC's defence correspondent Rob Watson says US opinion is divided over the strategic challenge posed by China.

Some see it as an emerging threat that must be countered at every turn.

But others take a more benign view, seeing China's increased military expenditure as a natural consequence of its growing economic power, our correspondent says.

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