BEIJING — China told Japan on Monday to stop targeting it as a threat and used it as an excuse to boost its military strength.
“If Japan must see China as an opponent, then it is after the wrong target and calculates it all wrong. There will be no future for Japan. We hope the Japanese side can seriously reflect on history, face up to the reality, think about the future, and adopt a peaceful development path, instead of frequently using China as an excuse to achieve its hidden agenda,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said during a news conference in Beijing.
Japan has repeatedly said it faces increasingly serious threats to its security from an assertive China, citing Beijing's actions in waters near East China Sea islets that are claimed by both countries.
Hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to strengthen Japan's defenses and revise the post-World War Two pacifist constitution to legitimize the military since he took office late last year, although winning support for contentious revisions is likely to take time.
Japan's military held field maneuvers for surface-to-ship missiles on Monday near the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Ties between Asia's two largest economies deteriorated sharply after Japan bought three of the disputed East China Sea islets from a private owner in September 2012, sparking protests and boycotts of Japanese goods across China.