China Accuses U.S. of Antagonism Over North Korea

Mike O'Brien

China has accused the U.S. of inflaming the worsening tensions with North Korea by telling the world it is beefing up its missile defenses.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Monday: "Bolstering missile defenses will only intensify antagonism, and it doesn't help to solve the issue."

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While not actually naming America, he added: "China hopes that the country concerned will proceed from the standpoint of protecting regional peace and stability, demonstrate a responsible attitude, and act carefully in regard to the antimissile issue."

The criticism follows Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement on Friday that 14 new interceptors are to be installed in Alaska.

North Korea responded on Saturday by criticizing what it described as the "hostile policy" of the U.S. and added that it will not negotiate over its nuclear program.

China’s comments came as it emerged the communist country is deploying drones to monitor the North Korean border.

The move is part of its rapid acceleration in the development and deployment of UAVs. Drones are being deployed in the on-going territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea and the regime plans to have 11 UAV maritime bases in operation by 2015.

While the U.S. military and government looks to make budget cuts in almost every area, China is stepping up its defense spending with a 10.7 percent growth this year.

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Chinese authorities have been quick to point out that its $115.7 billion military budget is a fraction of America’s $656.2 billion budget in 2012. They also stressed that the country has modest predictions for economic growth and is not involved in an arms race.

Despite the assurances, the announcement of increased spending has caused some alarm around the globe. U.S. defense analysts have long suspected that China under reports its military spending in its annual audits.

However, Li Jie of China’s People Liberation Army’s Naval Research Institute said the country’s military power is being exaggerated to "help scare small countries around China and force them to rely more on the U.S."

Government officials in Japan have been voicing their disquiet in the last week over China’s budget increase and have called on China to exercise greater responsibility by making its military spending more transparent.

China has for many years been North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic supporter. It has been against the efforts of the fellow communist regime to develop nuclear weapons, but has stated that harsh sanctions will not lead to the North abandoning its plans.

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