Washington - China is using state-sponsored industrial espionage to acquire the technology it needs to forge ahead with a fast-paced military modernisation programme and cut its reliance on foreign arms makers, the Pentagon said in a new report on Monday.
"China continues to leverage foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of repatriated Chinese students and researchers, and state-sponsored industrial and technical espionage to increase the level of technologies and expertise available to support military research, development, and acquisition," the US Defence Department said.
The department, in its 83-page annual report to Congress on Chinese military developments, said Beijing's publicly announced defence spending grew at an inflation-adjusted pace of nearly 10% annually over the past decade, but its actual outlays could be much higher.
China announced a 10.7% increase in military spending to $114bn in March, the Pentagon report said. But it estimated that China's actual spending for 2012 could range between $135bn and $215bn. US defence spending is more than double that at over $500bn.
"China continues to engage in activities designed to support military procurement and modernisation," the report said. "These include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, export control violations, and technology transfer."