China Dismisses U.S. Military Criticism

China on Tuesday rejected criticism by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that its military is too secretive, saying Beijing poses no threat to other countries.

Rumsfeld raised the concern during a regional defense conference in Singapore over the weekend, criticizing China for not being more open about its military budget.

"China's military is defensive in nature and we have no history of invading other countries and do not pose a threat to other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. "The U.S., as the world's largest military power, has no reason to criticize China on this issue."

China has fought a number of military conflicts on foreign soil since the founding of the communist state in 1949 but categorizes them as defensive actions.

They include battling U.S. and South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula in the 1950s, fighting Indian troops in a 1960s border dispute, and invading Vietnam in 1979. Beijing has also threatened to invade Taiwan if the self-governing island that China claims as its territory refuses to unify with the mainland.

Beijing announced in March 2005 it was increasing its defense budget by 12.5 percent, to about $29.9 billion, twice as much as in 2000.

That figure is generally considered an underestimate. It excludes key areas, such as foreign weapons deals and support for the military's nuclear stockpile. The actual budget could be two to three times higher.

The United States, by comparison, will spend roughly $500 billion this year on defense, including the war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan.