China on Wednesday criticized a newly released U.S. report on Beijing's growing military power as a "gross distortion" and interference in its affairs.

A U.S. Defense Department report released in Washington, D.C. said that Beijing continues to develop weapons that threaten longtime rival Taiwan, even though tensions between the two sides have been reduced significantly.

The report also said that China is developing longer-range capabilities that could have an effect beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign Ministry spoksman Qin Gang said at a regularly scheduled press conference that China has pursued peaceful development and that its military policy is defensive in nature.

"We urge the U.S. side to respect this fundamental fact, drop the Cold War mentality and bias ... and stop making groundless accusations against China so as not to further damage the two countries' military relations," he said. "It is a gross distortion of facts and interference into China's internal affairs."

The military report comes in the wake of heightened tensions between the U.S. and China after Chinese vessels this month harassed a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in international waters in the South China Sea.