BANGKOK (AP) — China said the United States is the “biggest disruptor of regional peace and stability” in the world in a scathing response Wednesday to a Pentagon report on China’s growing military buildup.
The annual report that is required by Congress is one way the Pentagon measures the military capabilities of China, which the U.S. government sees as its key threat in the Asia-Pacific region and America’s primary long-term security challenge.
The statement China’s Ministry of Defense issued in response called the Pentagon report’s findings false and used it in turn to hit back at the U.S.’ recent actions in helping Israel and Ukraine, as well as its buildup of military installations worldwide.
“The U.S. has sent depleted uranium munitions and cluster bombs to Ukraine, sent its carrier battle groups to the Mediterranean and weapons and munitions to Israel, is this the so-called ‘gospel’ the ’human rights defender is bringing to the area?” said Wu Qian, the spokesperson for China’s defense ministry.
The Pentagon report builds on a warning last year that China was expanding its nuclear force rapidly, in line with a general buildup of its military. The earlier warning said Beijing was on track to nearly quadruple the number of warheads it has to 1,500 by 2035.
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will visit the United States on Thursday ahead of a possible meetup between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November. U.S.-China relations have deteriorated since 2018, initially over a trade dispute but expanding to the pandemic, China’s actions in Xinjiang and over Taiwan.
China also made sure to address Taiwan in its response. The Pentagon report said China is intensifying military, diplomatic and economic pressure toward the self-ruled island.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has become more overt with this claim in recent years. This claim has become one of the main points of tension between China and the U.S. as U.S. support for Taiwan has grown. The U.S. has also sold billions of dollars in weapons to Taiwan, which the island’s government has said is for self-defense and deterrence.
“We urge the U.S. to stop using any excuse, any method to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan military links and illegally arm Taiwan in any way,” the spokesperson said.
The U.S. provides Taiwan sales under the Taiwan Relations Act, passed by Congress in 1979 to ensure the island is able to defend itself.