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Pentagon's tone softens on Chinese military growth

By Tan Yingzi in Washington and Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

08:23, May 21, 2012

Although the United States has toned down accusations about China's military expansion in its report released on Friday, some judgments made by the Pentagon might still further disrupt rocky Sino-US military ties, some analysts have said.

In its annual report on the development of China's military, the US Department of Defense said China is pursuing fast military modernization to help expand its economic and diplomatic interests around the world, including the possible construction of China's first domestically built aircraft-carrier.

It also claimed China was carrying out aggressive cyber espionage. It further pointed out that many of the cases of global cyber intrusion and data theft in 2011 originated within China, and it said the Chinese government is using cyber technology to collect strategic intelligence from the US government and private companies. Beijing expressed its "firm opposition" to the findings of the annual assessment.

The release of the report was also coupled with an action in the US House of Representatives, which voted to force President Barack Obama's administration to authorize the sale of 66 new fighter jets to Taiwan, which China considers to be historically part of its territory.

However, the measure, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, is not likely to get further approval from the Senate, according to US media.

Beijing on Saturday firmly opposed the Pentagon's report and demanded that Washington stop speculating about the intent of China's defense buildup.

"This Pentagon report makes irresponsible remarks about China's justified and normal defense development and spreads the theory that China is a military threat," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

He said the goal of the limited development of China's military force is to safeguard China's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it is not aimed at any other country or specific target.

"Countries without hostility toward China should not worry about such developments," he said. "We ask the US side to respect the fact, change the mentality and stop releasing such annual reports."

The People's Liberation Army Daily called the allegations "imaginary threats" caused by the US military's Cold War mentality.

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