China’s Defense Ministry on Sunday blasted a critical U.S. report on the country’s military ambitions, saying it is the U.S. instead that poses the biggest threat to the international order and world peace.
The statement follows the Sept. 2 release of the annual Defense Department report to Congress on Chinese military developments and goals that it said would have “serious implications for U.S. national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.”
Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian called the report a “wanton distortion” of China’s aims and the relationship between the People’s Liberation Army and China’s 1.4 billion people.
“Many years of evidence shows that it is the U.S. that is the fomenter of regional unrest, the violator of the international order and the destroyer of world peace,” he said.
U.S. actions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other countries over the past two decades have resulted in the deaths of more than 800,000 people and displacement of millions, Qian said.
“Rather than reflecting on itself, the U.S. issued a so-called report that made false comments about China’s normal defense and military construction,” he said in the statement. “We call on the U.S. to view China’s national defense and military construction objectively and rationally, cease making false statements and related reports, and take concrete actions to safeguard the healthy development of bilateral military relations.”
Running to more than 150 pages, the Defense Department report examined the PLA’s technical capabilities, doctrines and the ultimate aims of China’s military buildup. It said it includes becoming a “practical instrument” of China’s statecraft with an active role in advancing Beijing’s foreign policy and “aims to revise aspects of the international order.”
“Certainly, many factors will determine how this course unfolds,” the report said. “What is certain is that (the ruling Communist Party) has a strategic end state that it is working towards, which, if achieved and its accompanying military modernization left unaddressed, will have serious implications for U.S. national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.”
Much of the report was devoted to analyzing China’s strategy toward Taiwan, a U.S. ally which China considers a part of its territory to be annexed by force if necessary. China’s military capabilities dwarf those of the island of 23 million in numerical terms, although any invasion of Taiwan would be complex and would carry major political risks, the report said.
It also looked at areas where the 2 million-member PLA, the world’s largest standing military, has overtaken the U.S., including in the size of its navy, now the world’s largest with approximately 350 ships and submarines compared to around 293 for the U.S.
China has also built a considerable arsenal of land-based ballistic and cruise missiles and has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems, the report said.
This year’s report comes as relations between Beijing and Washington have hit their lowest ebb in decades amid simmering disputes over trade, technology, Taiwan, human rights and the South China Sea.