The online news portal of TV5
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon said on Friday it believes China spent up to $180 billion on its military buildup last year, a far higher figure than acknowledged by Beijing, and it accused "Chinese actors" of being the world's biggest perpetrators of economic espionage.
The Pentagon, in its annual assessment to Congress of China's military, flagged sustained investment last year in advanced missile technologies and cyber warfare capabilities and warned that Chinese spying threatened America's economic security.
The report was the first by the Pentagon since President Barack Obama last year launched a policy "pivot" to reinforce US influence across the Asia-Pacific, even as planned belt-tightening shrinks the size of the US military in many other parts of the world.
China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011 and its August launch of a fledgling aircraft carrier - a refitted former Soviet craft.
China announced in March that 2012 outlays on the People's Liberation Army will reach 670.3 billion yuan for 2012 (about $106 billion), an 11.2 percent increase over 2011. That follows a near-unbroken string of double-digit rises across two decades.
The Pentagon suggested that China's 2011 figure was an underestimate, noting "poor accounting transparency and China's still incomplete transition from a command economy." The official Chinese figure, the Pentagon said, did not include things like foreign procurement as well as other major categories of expenditure.
In contrast, US lawmakers are now debating a bill seeking $554 billion in base defense spending for the 2013 fiscal year beginning in October and $88.5 billion for the Afghan war and other overseas operations.