China rejects US criticism of its military

BEIJING – China dismissed U.S. accusations that the growth and modernization of its military poses a threat, saying Friday that the comments were groundless and irresponsible.

The rejection of the U.S. criticism comes just weeks before China shows off its military muscle with a hardware display expected to be the centerpiece of a grandiose parade through Beijing on Oct. 1 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.

Earlier this week, U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair released the 2009 National Intelligence Strategy, which raised U.S. concerns about China's aggressive pursuit of natural resources around the world and its work to modernize its military.

Hu Changming, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said "the U.S. should respect China's national defense policy and take measures to correct the wrong comments," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Hu called the U.S. comments "totally groundless and irresponsible," according to Xinhua.

Blair said in a speech that U.S. naval carriers and air bases in the Pacific face new threats from China's modernization and that China has become "very aggressive" in the cyberworld.

"China shares many interests with the United States, but its increasing natural resource-focused diplomacy and military modernization are among the factors making it a complex global challenge," the report said.

China, with its People's Liberation Army of 2.3 million members, has long been tightlipped about its military strength and capacity, drawing criticism and concern from the U.S., which has been wary of the Asian giant's growing power and skyrocketing military spending which reached $71 billion this year, though analysts believe the actual figure is much higher.

The spending is second to the U.S. but a fraction of American defense spending. Beijing says its increased defense spending is not a threat to other countries.

Buddha shaped pears are seen in an orchard in China. REUTERS/Pillar Lee