- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

BEIJING (AP) - China’s Defense Ministry has angrily rejected accusations from Japan that the Chinese military is destabilizing the regional military balance by seeking to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, accusing Japan of seeking to deceive the international community and sow discord between China and its neighbors.

A ministry statement issued late Tuesday said Japan’s annual defense report was “full of lousy cliches, makes irresponsible remarks on China’s normal and legal national defense and military development (and) hypes up the East and South China Sea issues.”

“The ultimate objective of Japan is to cook (up) excuses for adjusting by leaps and bounds its military and security policies and accelerating its arms expansion, even rewriting the pacifist constitution,” the statement said, referring to legislation passed last year that loosened post-World War II constraints on the Japanese military.

The report is “full of malice toward the Chinese military and deception to the international community, as well as intention to sow discord among China and its neighboring countries,” the statement said, citing ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian.

The tone of the report was typical for China, which was invaded by Japan before World War II and continues to regard its neighbor as unrepentant and a threat to its global rise.

The statement also reiterated China’s claim to disputed East China Sea islands controlled by Japan and said it was the Japanese government that altered the status quo by purchasing the chain from its private Japanese owners in 2012.

Since then, China has routinely dispatched coast guard vessels and patrol planes to the area and a Chinese navy warship recently entered a strip of water just outside Japanese-claimed waters.

The Japanese defense report said increased activity in the East China Sea prompted Japan to scramble warplanes more than 570 times last year. Japan calls the disputed islands Senkaku, while China calls them Diaoyu.

Along with the U.S. and others, Japan expressed concern over massive Chinese land reclamation projects undertaken in the South China Sea.

China says it is well within its rights to build the islands, complete with airstrips and harbors, and rejected an international arbitration panel’s ruling last month that invalidated Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire strategic water body.

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This story has been corrected to fix spelling of Chinese name of islands to Diaoyu instead of Diayu.

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