The 100-page report, entitled 'Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China', comes amid rising tensions in South China Sea and adjacent areas, where Washington's and Beijing's interests appear to be on collision course.
Beijing says it is "firmly opposed" to a Pentagon report on the Chinese military that highlighted China's construction of military facilities on made-made islands in the South China Sea and speculated that Beijing would likely build more military bases overseas.
Reacting to the Pentagon report, an editorial by Global Times, English daily under People's Daily (an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party) also said, "These reports suggest that the USA has decreasing confidence over its military supremacy in the West Pacific".
China is undergoing a military modernization program that is targeting capabilities with the potential to degrade core US military-technological advantages, states the report.
The goal of making improvements to "military and civilian infrastructure in the South China Sea" is to "bolster de facto control" of the maritime region, according to the Pentagon.
It said that as of late past year, China was building 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities on each of the three largest outposts.
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Three regiments of fighter aircraft can be housed in the facilities.
"We oppose China's artificial island construction and their militarization of features in global waters", Tillerson said while appearing in Sydney, Australia Monday alongside Mattis and the Australian foreign and defense ministers.
However, officials admitted that figure could not account for all spending due to poor accounting transparency.
The report was published days after top United States defense and foreign policy officials traveled to Asia as part of a bid to reassure traditional U.S. allies concerned over Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea. The Trump administration conducted its first freedom-of-navigation operation in late May, sending the USS Dewey within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.
In February 2016, China began construction of a military base in Djibouti that could be complete within the next year.
The report mentioned that arms transfers are also a component of China foreign policy, used in conjunction with other types of military, economic aid and development assistance to support broader foreign policy goals.
In addition, the Defense Department noted that Beijing continued to use "low-intensity coercion" in disputes related to the East and South China Seas.
It cited China's 2016 launch of the first experimental quantum communications satellite, acknowledging that it represented a "notable advance in cryptography research".
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