While it continues to carry a cautious and polite tone, this year’s report contains a few hot button items that point directly to China’s aggressive military moves on several fronts.
China’s government became enraged by the report. The state-run Xinhua News Agency produced the loudest protests.
“U.S. report on China’s military baseless, counterproductive” read the headline of a vitriolic article on the Pentagon report. The article called it “groundless,” “unwise,” “self-contradictory,” “harmful,” indicative of “Cold War thinking and zero-sum game mentality,” and, of course, an act of interference “with China’s internal affairs by commenting on the situation across the Taiwan Straits.”
The Chinese government is particularly angry at the report’s criticism of Beijing’s aggressive acts aiming to take over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands. For the first time, the annual report calls China’s unilateral maritime border demarcating China’s territorial waters near the Senkakus noncompliant with international law. China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, responded to the charge by calling the statement “unwise” and “self-defeating.”
Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters in Beijing that the charge against China’s maritime border contained in the report was unhelpful and sends the wrong signal to the Japanese.
Another strong criticism of China contained in the Pentagon report concerns China’s cyberespionage. For the first time, the report recognizes that China’s aggressive, massive cyberattacks on the United States were well-organized and that the Chinese military is behind much of the hacking.
Ms. Hua countered the report’s assertion not by denying the cyberespionage but by calling the cyberspying charge by the United States an act of emotional “finger-pointing.”
The People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, on Thursday published a Mao Zedong-style, anti-American propaganda piece under the headline “Defaming China cannot cover U.S. evil acts.”
The article condemned U.S. efforts to develop cyberwarfare capabilities and sternly warned the United States that “once cyberwarfare is triggered, there will never be peaceful days.”
The article concludes with this admonition to Washington: “It is a dangerous move [for the United States] to try to obtain cyber-military supremacy by bringing shame on other countries, which will definitely result in shooting itself in the foot.”
GENERAL demands stability
Gen. Xu Qiliang, China’s top uniformed officer, demanded that the army rank and file devote more efforts to maintaining domestic security and “social stability” in the western border provinces, namely Buddhist Tibet and the predominantly Muslim western Xinjiang region.
Gen. Xu is vice chairman of the Communist Party Central Committee’s Central Military Commission, the Chinese armed forces’ highest command authority.