BEIJING (Reuters) - China has warned Japan over a defence white paper voicing wariness about Beijing’s military build-up, telling Tokyo that it should instead focus on the economic opportunities brought by China’s growth.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry joined in condemning Japan’s latest annual defence report, which laid out worries about China’s military modernisation and expanding maritime reach.
Japan, which is at odds with China over parts of the East China Sea, is planning to boost the number of its submarines to 22 from 16.
In his response to the Japanese report, which was issued on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu obliquely warned Tokyo not to depart from its longstanding defence posture.
The Japanese report contained “irresponsible comments” and “the Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction about this”, Ma said in remarks issued on his ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn) late on Wednesday.
Geng Yansheng, the Chinese defence ministry spokesman, accused Japan of “deliberately exaggerating the ‘China threat’ and acting out of ulterior motives,” according to the ministry’s website (http://www.mod.gov.cn).
China’s predictably dismissive reaction to Tokyo’s policy statement underscored the mix of interdependence and mutual wariness driving ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.
“China’s development has brought major opportunities to every country in the world, including Japan, and China has not and will not constitute a threat to any country,” said Ma, the foreign ministry spokesman.
“We hope that Japan will use history as a guide, and earnestly reflect on its defence policies, and do more to enhance mutual trust with its neighbours,” he said.
Japan has a standing military of about 230,000 personnel, one-tenth of China’s.
China’s defence budget has shot up nearly 70 percent over the past five years, while Japan — tied by a public debt twice the size of its $5 trillion economy — has cut its military outlays by 3 percent over the same period, the Japanese report said.
The Japanese white paper expressed concerns over China’s rapid military buildup, the murkiness of Beijing’s defence budget, and its assertiveness in dealing with international conflicts.
“China’s strengthening of its defence and modernising of its military forces is entirely for the sake of protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring smooth economic and social development,” said Geng, the Chinese defence spokesman.
Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Ron Popeski