China's Defense Ministry says the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific smeared China while seeking additional defense funding from Congress.

Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian on Thursday strongly criticized Adm. Harry Harris Jr.'s testimony before Congress this week, in which Harris said China was militarizing the South China Sea.

Wu said he understood Harris was seeking additional funding, but said that shouldn't have led him to issue what he called careless smears.

China's armed forces have embarked on an extensive project of building and extending islands in the strategically vital and highly disputed region, adding airstrips, harbors, radar stations and other infrastructure and deploying surface-to-air missiles on some. However, Beijing vigorously denies accusations of militarization and accuses the U.S. and its allies of raising tensions.