China is accusing the United States of deliberate distortion of facts, saying it has “severely damaged” mutual trust.
Beijing is reacting angrily to a congressional report by the US Defense Department that China is expected to add substantial military infrastructure, including communications and surveillance systems, to artificial islands in the South China Sea this year.
Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun expressed “strong dissatisfaction” and “firm opposition” to the Pentagon report, according to Reuters.
The report “hyped up” China’s military threat and lack of transparency, “deliberately distorted” Chinese defense policies and “unfairly” depicted Chinese activities in the East and South China seas, Yang was quoted as saying.
“China follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature,” Yang said, adding that the country’s military build-up and reforms are aimed at maintaining sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and guaranteeing China’s peaceful development.
It is the US that has always been suspicious and flexing its military muscle by frequently sending military aircraft and warships to the region, Yang said.
Despite its calls for freedom of navigation and restraint for peace, the US has pushed forward militarization of the South China Sea with an “intention to exert hegemony”, Yang added.
The Pentagon report said the planned addition of military infrastructure would give China long-term “civil-military bases” in the contested waters.
It estimated that China’s reclamation work had added more than 3,200 acres of land on seven features it occupied in the Spratly Islands in the space of two years.
The report said China had completed its major reclamation efforts in October, switching focus to infrastructure development, including three 9,800 foot-long (3,000 meter) airstrips that can accommodate advanced fighter jets.
Yang defended the construction, saying it serves mostly civilian purposes and helps fulfill China’s international responsibilities and obligations by providing more public goods.
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