Chinese state media on Tuesday warned that Washington’s planned military shift towards the Asia-Pacific threatens to create rifts between the two countries and may upset regional stability.
The warnings come days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined a plan to transfer the majority of U.S. warships to the region by the end of the decade as part of the Obama administration’s “strategic re-balance” toward Asia.
A commentary in the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper rejected Washington’s insistence that the move is not aimed at containing China, whose increasing assertiveness about its maritime claims have upset many neighbors in the region.
The paper said it is “plain for all to see” that the United States has made China its target, saying this could “create schisms” in the region.
On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin called on the U.S. to respect China’s regional interests, saying that deploying more forces and strengthening military ties in the region are “inappropriate” actions.
“All parties should contribute to maintaining and promoting peace, stability and development in the region. Deliberately highlighting the military and security agenda, deploying more military forces and strengthening military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region are inappropriate.”
Panetta told a conference of defense officials in Singapore on Saturday that the U.S. Navy would reposition its naval forces so that 60 percent of its battleships would be in the Pacific by 2020, up from about 50 percent now.
The defense secretary is wrapping up a week-long visit to the Asia-Pacific region with a two-day trip to India, where he is expected to discuss expanding defense ties and China’s economic and military power in the region.