Beijing protests Pentagon report on military budget, calls it ‘exaggerated’

China on Friday protested to the US over an ‘exaggerated’ Pentagon report that said the Communist giant underestimated its defence budget by nearly 20 per cent.

The Pentagon’s report to the US Congress has drawn protest from China over its ‘interfering nature, distortion of facts and baseless speculation’, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The report ‘makes pointless accusations, exaggerates the ‘Chinese military threat’ and is a completely wrong course of action,’ Xinhua cited the defence’s ministry’s information office as saying.

China has repeatedly stated the defensive nature of its national defence policy and has issued white papers on national defence since 1998 to enhance transparency and boost trust in its commitment to peaceful development, it said. Beijing continued more than two decades of sustained annual defence spending increases with aims to improve its capabilities such as advanced intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons and offensive cyber capabilities, the Pentagon report said. ‘China’s military investments provide it with a growing ability to project power at increasingly longer ranges,’ the report said.

‘In 2013, this included at-sea testing of China’s first aircraft carrier and continued development of fifth-generation fighter aircraft.’  In March, China announced that its military expenditure will grow by 12.2 per cent to about USD 132 billion in 2014, the fastest yearly growth in the country’s defence budget in three years.

However, the Pentagon says China underestimated its growing defence budget by nearly 20 per cent with its spending likely nearing USD 145 billion last year. The 96-page Pentagon report attributes the defence budget increase partly to the increasing international responsibilities China is facing.
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