China's Foreign Ministry has reacted forcefully to a U.S. Defense Department report on the expansion of China's military.

Ministry spokeswomen Jiang Yu said in a statement Monday that the Pentagon's annual report exaggerates China's defense spending in an effort to play up China's military threat. She said China is a peace-loving country pursuing its right to protect its national security.

Jiang also called on Washington to stop sending what she called "wrong signals" to pro-independence forces on the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Taiwan severed ties with mainland China following a a 1949 civil war, but Beijing considers the island a renegade province.

The U.S. Defense Department report issued Friday says, despite China's military buildup, it lacks the power for a successful attack against Taiwan.

The report says China is developing sophisticated missiles, aircraft and ships, and is increasing its capacity to launch pre-emptive strikes beyond East Asia. The Pentagon says China is developing weapons to protect the country's access to resources, such as oil.

China announced plans in March to increase military spending by nearly 18 percent this year to about $45 billion. Analysts believe the actual budget is much bigger.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.