China Denounces U.S. Report on Missiles



BEIJING (AP) -- China on Friday denounced a U.S. report saying it was aiming more missiles at rival Taiwan, and accused Washington of making excuses to sell weapons to the island's government.

The report, which the Pentagon released Wednesday, said China was acquiring short-range missiles at a much faster rate than previously thought. It said preparing for potential conflict with Taiwan was the ``primary driver'' of China's military modernization.

``The goal is an excuse to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan and fabricate public opinion,'' the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. ``The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.''

The three-sentence Foreign Ministry statement didn't respond to the Pentagon report's assertion that China has 450 short-range ballistic missiles and is adding 75 missiles a year. That is an increase over a report from last year, which said China was adding to its arsenal at a rate of 50 missiles a year.

The U.S. report also noted China's recent acquisition of Russian-made submarines that could be used to cut off shipping to Taiwan or threaten U.S. forces in a conflict with the island.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since splitting in 1949 amid civil war. The communist Beijing government claims the island as its own territory and has threatened to capture it by force.

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan's popularly elected government.

China is spending heavily on modernizing its 2.5 million-member military, the world's largest. Its budget has swelled nearly every year for the past decade.

Foreign analysts regard missiles as one of China's strongest military technologies, and say short-range ballistic missiles could play a key role in any conflict with Taiwan.

In addition, Beijing has spent billions of dollars a year on acquiring Russian-made supersonic fighter jets, submarines and other advanced weaponry.



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