BEIJING - Beijing said Jan. 9 that a new U.S. defense strategy focused on countering China's rising power was based on "groundless" charges, and insisted it posed no threat to any nation.
U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled the strategy Jan. 5, calling for a leaner U.S. military focused on the Asia-Pacific region and signaling a shift away from large ground wars against insurgents.
But China, whose People's Liberation Army has benefited from a huge and expanding budget boosted by the nation's rapid economic growth, said the fears were baseless, urging the U.S. to "play a more constructive role."
"The charges against China in this document are groundless and untrustworthy," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in response to a question from state media about whether China poses a threat to U.S. security.
Liu was referring to the strategy document released last week, which said the growth of China's military power "must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region."
"To maintain the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region serves the common interest of all countries within the region," Liu added. "We hope the U.S. side will play a more constructive role to this end."
Washington's focus on Asia is fueled by concerns over China's growing navy and its arsenal of anti-ship missiles that could jeopardize U.S. military dominance in the Pacific. China's responses to recent U.S. moves to boost its military presence in Asia - including the deployment of up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia - have so far been restrained.
China's official Xinhua news agency said Jan. 6 it welcomed a bigger U.S. presence in Asia as "conducive to regional stability and prosperity," while urging it against "warmongering."
China "adheres to the path of peaceful development, upholds an independent foreign policy of peace and a defense policy that is defensive in nature," Liu said. "Our national defense modernization serves the objective requirements of national security and development and also plays an active role in maintaining regional peace and security. It will not pose any threat to any country."