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BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday slammed a Pentagon report on its growing military might, saying criticism of China's lack of transparency betrayed Washington's "Cold War" mindset and risked damaging ties.
China had complained to Washington about the annual report, which was released on Wednesday, because it distorted the truth and amounted to meddling in China's affairs, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a scheduled news conference.
"We suggest the United States respect the fundamental facts, drop the Cold War thinking and prejudices, stop releasing such China military reports and stop the groundless accusations over China, to prevent further damage to the relationship between the two countries and two armies," Qin said.
The report, the first under the Obama administration, came weeks after Chinese boats jostled with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the South China Sea in a confrontation that heightened tensions over Chinese military activities near its coasts.
In the report, the Pentagon said China was making advances in denying outsiders access to offshore areas and was improving its nuclear, space and cyber warfare.
But it also warned that Beijing's failure to be transparent about its rapidly growing military capabilities had created uncertainty and risks of miscalculation. The emerging Asian superpower could allay concerns and boost transparency through military-to-military discussions with the United States and by publishing better defense papers and other documents, a senior U.S. defense official said.
China says it seeks only peace and self-defense, and argues that other nations have overstated the "China threat" for their own political ends.
"China has constantly taken the path of peaceful development and pursued a defensive national defense policy, to maintain world peace and stability," Qin said.
The U.S. report said China was building up an arsenal of short-range missiles opposite Taiwan, even as political ties warm with the self-ruled island which Beijing views as a renegade province to be brought back into the fold by force if necessary.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense spokesman, Martin Yu, said Taipei was hoping, like Washington, for clarity on its heavyweight neighbor's plans.
"We basically hope China can sustain a transparent outlook and be positive toward safety ... Military trust is something we need time to discuss."
Additional reporting by Ralph Jennings in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie and Dean Yates