China's state media are accusing the United States of trying to provoke trouble between China and its Asian neighbors.
The Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper quoted a policy expert Thursday commenting on written remarks provided by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta to a Congressional panel considering his nomination to be the next U.S. secretary of defense.
In the remarks, reported by the Bloomberg news agency, Panetta said China appears to be building the capability "to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts" along its borders.
Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of American Studies at the Renmin University of China, told Global Times that Panetta's comments could be seen as a provocation intended to exaggerate tensions between China and its neighbors.
Shi also said that China will never provoke conflicts with its neighbors.
Despite Shi's assurance, China is engaged in simmering diplomatic disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines over actions by its military vessels in the South China Sea. Late last month, Chinese vessels cut an exploration cable on a Vietnamese oil survey ship in waters well within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. Manila also accuses China of intruding into its exclusive waters.
China also engaged in a bitter dispute with Japan last year over an incident in the East China Sea. A senior Chinese general was quoted this week confirming for the first time that China will soon launch its first aircraft carrier.
Panetta said in his remarks to Congress that China appears to be focusing its military build-up on potential contingencies involving Taiwan, including possible U.S. military intervention. He said the United States should closely monitor China's military growth while seeking ways to preserve peace, enhance stability and reduce risk in the region.