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China hits back at White House security report

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Mar 21 (Reuters) China hit back at the United States today for a White House national security report that criticised its military buildup and trade policies, saying the remarks were ''groundless'' and harmed relations.

The sniping comes ahead of a trip to Washington expected in late April by Chinese leader Hu Jintao, his first formal visit as president.

''We ask the U.S. side to stop releasing remarks that are harmful to the healthy development of the Sino-U.S. relations, to mutual understanding and to regional peace, stability and development,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

China has made a ''strong representation'' against the United States over the report and expressed its ''strong dissatisfaction'', Qin said, calling the document groundless and irresponsible.

The White House report said China was expanding its military without transparency, but Qin characterised Beijing's military policy as ''defensive in nature''.

The U.S. report also expressed concern about China's trade tactics, saying Beijing was seeking to direct markets rather than opening them up, acting as if it could ''lock up'' energy supplies around the world and supporting resource-rich countries without regard for their domestic rule or international behaviour.

China has energy deals with states like Sudan and Iran, on which Washington has imposed sanctions.

Qin said China conducts economic and energy cooperation with other countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

''We hope the U.S. side will take feasible measures to eliminate the harmful influence of the related remarks and opinions in the report,'' he said.

Reuters PR DB0952

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