The Pentagon has been exaggerating China's military threat to justify building a new generation of weapons, according to a study released by two US private research groups.
The report, released by the Federation of American Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday, said that the US Defense Department and intelligence agencies have portrayed Chinese weapons developments as more threatening than warranted, because military planners need a real or potential danger to justify new weapons or new strategies.
Chinese experts on military affairs and international security said China's military development aims at defending its national sovereignty.
"With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US has turned its attention to China to help fill the vacuum," news agencies quoted the report as saying. The 250-page document is named Chinese Nuclear Forces and US Nuclear War Planning.
The main finding of the study is that the US inaccurately portrays a looming Chinese threat, and the Sino-US nuclear relationship is dramatically disproportionate in favor of the US and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
"The modernization of the Chinese army's arsenal is to keep up with the trends in technological development and to better fulfil its duty of defending State security," said Teng Jianqun, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
"Some people in the US intend to drag China into an arms race to slow down China's economic development, as they did with the former Soviet Union, but I do not think China will follow suit," said Teng.
The study also warned that this inaccurate portrait could pitch the two countries into "a dangerous action-and-reaction competition reminiscent of the Cold War," and the two countries must be careful not to let the nuclear issue undermine important economic, political and cultural ties.
"The two private research organizations offer a picture showing the reality," said Major General Peng Guangqian, who is a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Military Studies.
Peng blamed some politicians in the US for hyping China's military threat for political purposes, and said some still have a Cold War mentality.
The report also said that the US military had been "embellishing China's submarine and long-range missile capabilities."
The study estimated China's nuclear stockpile at around 200 warheads, compared with nearly 10,000 for the US.
(China Daily December 2, 2006)