A shock annual Pentagon report, published Thursday, also said China's bombers are "likely training for strikes" against the U.S. and its allies, prompting a stern reply from Beijing.
"We urge the United States side to abandon the outdated cold-war and zero-sum mentality..."
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson also said in a statement that the United States should stop issuing what it calls irresponsible reports and take actual steps to develop relations between the 2 countries' militaries. It estimates that Beijing spent a whopping $190 billion on the military in 2017 alone, an increase from last year's estimation of $180 billion occurring despite the fact that China's GDP growth has stalled.
He said China's military modernization is aimed at safeguarding its sovereignty and security, as well as world peace and stability, and the military reform, weapons development and cyberspace defense are justifiable and reasonable. It also says China is pursuing a nuclear capability on its long-range bombers, saying the Chinese Air Force "has been re-assigned a nuclear mission".
"We demand the USA side abandons Cold War thinking, objectively and rationally views China's defense and military construction, stops issuing the relevant reports, and takes actual steps to promote and protect the stable development of military-to-military relations", it said.
When the Pentagon released its annual report a year ago, Beijing dismissed it as "irresponsible" in predicting that China would expand its global military presence by building overseas bases in countries like Pakistan.
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The Washington document says China is "willing to employ coercive measures - both military and non-military - to advance its interests and mitigate opposition from other countries".
"We urge the USA side to abandon the outdated cold-war and zero-sum mentality, put China's strategic intention and national defense development in perspective, stop issuing such irresponsible report year after year", he added.
This year China's air force landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region.
To the ire of regional neighbors, China has built a series of islets and ocean features into military facilities in the South China Sea.
It further said in addition to the bombers Beining already operates, "China is developing a stealthy, long-range strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability that could be operational within the next 10 years".