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Friday, February 26, 2016, 10:03

Defense Ministry attacks hegemony claims by US

By Zhang Yunbi

The Ministry of National Defense has said the commander of US forces in the Pacific is trying to secure an increased defense budget by accusing China of "seeking hegemony" in the region.

Admiral Harry Harris said at a US Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing this week, "China seeks hegemony in East Asia" and a change of "the operational landscape".

Wu Qian, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, told a scheduled news conference on Thursday that Harris had the right to ask for a budget increase, and China would not seek to intervene on this.

"But it is inappropriate to ask for more money by carelessly smearing China," Wu said.

Wu said China could not be accused of seeking hegemony, as its islands and reefs had been occupied illegally by other countries for decades.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the US had not tried to hide its "double standards" on handling the South China Sea issue.

"China is actually the largest victim," Ruan said, referring to the construction work carried out by countries that had occupied China's islands and reefs illegally for decades.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that the US "should at least keep its promise to not take sides on the sovereign dispute over the Nansha Islands" in the South China Sea.

"The US used to support China's claim to sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and reefs," Wang said as he spoke to US senators during a visit to Capitol Hill in Washington.

Greg Austin, a professorial fellow at the East West Institute in New York, said that a "big lie" had been perpetrated by the Pentagon in claiming that China's actions in the South China Sea threaten commercial shipping.

On Thursday, the Ministry of National Defense and the Foreign Ministry voiced "serious concerns" over negative comments in the 2016 Defence White Paper released by the Australian Department of Defense.

The Guardian newspaper reported that the document states, "Australia is particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China's land reclamation activities" in the South China Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "It is hoped that Australia will correctly and positively view China's development and strategic intentions."

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