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China Criticizes US Report on Its Military

China is blasting a U.S. report on Chinese military power as groundless.

China criticized the Defense Department annual report presented to Congress nearly two-months ago.

Official government newspapers carried statements saying the report contains "groundless conclusions" and that it "wantonly misrepresents China's strategic goals."

The Pentagon report, released in late July, says China is beefing up its arsenal and is expected to add 75 short-range missiles each year. The report says Beijing is buying or developing other new equipment in preparation for a potential conflict with Taiwan.

U.S. officials have said China is developing weapons systems that would counter efforts by Washington to intervene if China decides to invade Taiwan.

Chinese government spokesman Kong Quan dismissed the U.S. report as exaggerated, and repeated earlier admonitions about U.S. military sales to Taiwan.

He said there are a handful of people in the United States who have exaggerated China's military expenditures and its threat to Taiwan. Mr. Kong says China believes the real purpose of the report is to find an excuse for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Although the United States and Taiwan have no formal diplomatic relations, the Bush administration has indicated it would help defend Taiwan against aggressors. In times of high tension, the United States has sailed warships into the Taiwan Strait to send a message to China that it will not tolerate belligerent behavior.

Defense analysts say U.S. companies are the main suppliers of weapons to Taiwan's military.

China and Taiwan have had separate governments since the end of a civil war in 1949, and Beijing considers the island a renegade province. China has threatened to attack Taiwan if its government declares independence.

China, with the world's largest standing army, says it spends $20 billion a year on defense. But U.S. officials say the figure is closer to $65 billion.

Washington has said it views China's rapid military buildup as potentially destabilizing.

U.S. officials say China apparently believes the United States poses a significant long-term challenge, and say Chinese leaders have asserted that Washington seeks to contain the growth of Chinese power.

Despite the acrimonious exchange, officials in both countries have described current Sino-U.S. relations as being at their best in many years.