China's state press stepped up the rhetoric against the United States on Friday, accusing President Bush of threatening global peace with his missile-defense plans and saying he would ignite an arms race.

"The United States is taking a dangerous course,'' said the China Daily newspaper. "The United States ... is apparently attempting to seek absolute military supremacy and even greater global hegemony."

The attack came a day after China, in its first official response, called on Bush to scrap plans unveiled Tuesday in a speech in Washington. China has consistently opposed proposals for the United States to build a missile defense shield.

It's not clear if the tone of China's most recent comments were influenced by the unsteady state of current relations between the two powers caused by last month's incident involving the U.S. surveillance plane. The aircraft remains on Chinese territory, and negotiators have made little progress in coming up with an agreement that will put U.S-Chinese relations back on track.

Beijing urged Bush to preserve the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which severely restricts such defenses. The treaty was signed only by Washington and Moscow, but China calls it an important arms-control standard.