US 'trying to damage' cross-Straits ties

Updated: 2012-05-22 07:26

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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The United States is trying to spoil relations between Beijing and Taipei by deliberately playing up the imbalance in their military power in a Pentagon report, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Moreover, the report also serves as an excuse to sell 66 US F-16 jets to Taiwan, ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in a news release on the ministry's website.

"In trying to find excuses to sell arms to Taiwan, the US has been deliberately playing up the imbalance in military power between the mainland and Taiwan and sowing dissension between them, irrespective of the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Straits," Geng said.

He made the remarks in response to the US Defense Department's annual report on China's military power, published on Friday.

China has made representations to the US and expressed "strong dissatisfaction" and "firm opposition" to the report, he said.

Geng said China's justified and normal military development has been unfairly depicted in the report, adding that Beijing has always maintained a transparent strategic intent and made efforts to expand military exchanges.

He also denied US accusations that China engaged in cyber attacks against the US.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said earlier this month, after meeting his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie in the US, that China is also a victim of cyber attacks, after years of accusations of alleged Chinese attacks on the US.

Geng said US suspicions and efforts to discredit China go against the country's promise to build healthy, stable, reliable and sustainable military ties with China.

China has cut its military exchanges with the US several times over US plans to sell arms to Taiwan. Liang's May visit to the US was the first by a Chinese defense minister to the US in nine years.

The Pentagon announced that Panetta will visit China later this year.

To avoid disturbing relations, Geng said the US must respect facts, change its attitude and cease issuing similar reports year after year. It should also take concrete steps to promote bilateral military relations, he said.

The Pentagon document was released as the US House of Representatives voted to force the US government to sell 66 new fighter-jets to Taiwan last week. The measure still needs Senate approval.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday that Beijing firmly opposed the move.

"We'll urge US lawmakers to cease their Cold War mentality, stop pushing for arms sales to Taiwan and stop interfering in China's internal affairs," he said.

Liu Hui, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is "highly possible" that the US Senate will approve the arms sales deal.

But Liu pointed out that there are other methods available to limit the deal's impact on China-US relations, citing the Bush administration's continued delaying of the delivery of the jets.

But the Pentagon report and arms sales plan to Taiwan, once approved, will "undoubtedly" overshadow recently improved military ties between Beijing and Washington.

"So far it seems the Obama administration doesn't want to hurt relations with Beijing over the arms deal," Liu said. US President Barack Obama's administration is only planning to upgrade Taiwan's existing planes.