China on Wednesday accused the United States of undermining global stability with unilateral policies and "power politics" as the Defense Ministry issued the first comprehensive outline of its policies since President Xi Jinping came to power more than six years ago.
The U.S. was the first country mentioned in the document's opening section about "prominent destabilizing factors" and "profound changes" in the international security environment.
"The U.S. has adjusted its national security and defense strategies, and adopted unilateral policies," China said in the document. "It has provoked and intensified competition among countries, significantly increased its defense expenditure ... and undermined global strategic stability."
It's the 10th white paper of its kind since 1998. The last one was published in 2011, two years before Xi became president.
The document said China will not renounce the use of force in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vowed to take all necessary military measures to defeat "separatists."
China listed among its top priorities its resolve to contain "Taiwan independence" and combat what it considers separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang. While highlighting China's "defensive" approach, the report also pledged to "surely counterattack if attacked."
China's paramilitary police have helped Xinjiang authorities "take out 1,588 violent terrorist gangs and capture 12,995 terrorists," the report said. The U.S., independent analysts and human rights groups have estimated that around 1 million Muslims have been detained in internment camps as part of what the government calls a counterterrorism campaign.
Former Uighur and Kazakh detainees and their families have accused China of punishing religious expression and separating children from their parents. They say members of their predominantly Muslim ethnic groups have been arbitrarily detained and subject to political indoctrination.
China has long called the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist. But the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader maintains that he only wants a greater degree of autonomy for the region.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the threat of Taiwan separatism is growing and warned that those who are seeking the democratic island's independence will meet a dead end.
"If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will certainly fight, resolutely defending the country's sovereign unity and territorial integrity," Wu said.
Taiwan split from the Communist Party-ruled mainland China amid civil war in 1949. China maintains that Taiwan is part of its territory and seeks "complete reunification."
The U.S. has repeatedly raised Beijing's ire by selling arms to Taiwan. While the U.S. does not have formal diplomatic ties with the island, U.S. law requires that it provide Taiwan with sufficient defense equipment and services for self-defense.
Earlier this month, the U.S. tentatively approved the sale of $2.2 billion in arms to Taiwan — a proposal that had prompted China to threaten sanctions against the U.S. Taiwan's defense ministry said it made the request in light of a growing military threat from China.
"The Western world, led by the United States, continues to strengthen its ability to contain China," said Hong Kong-based military analyst Song Zhongping. U.S. actions on Taiwan, the South China Sea, North Korea and Iran have all contributed to making the U.S. the "initiator" of China's security concerns, he said.
The release of the white paper at this time is to "warn the Taiwan independence forces and relevant parties in the U.S. that they should not underestimate China's determination," Song said.
The white paper also pointed to U.S., Japanese and Australian moves to beef up their military presence and alliances in the Asia-Pacific as bringing uncertainties to the region.
The U.S. deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea has severely undermined the regional strategic balance, the report said. It further noted Japan's reinterpretation of its post-World War II constitution to allow its military to operate farther from its shores.
China's military expansion in recent years has prompted concerns among other Pacific countries in a region long dominated by the U.S. Navy. China's development of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles in particular has been seen as an effort to deter U.S. military and naval access to parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
"China exercises its national sovereignty to build infrastructure and deploy necessary defensive capabilities on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and to conduct patrols in the waters of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea," the white paper said, referring to disputed waters as well as islands that Japan calls the Senkaku Islands.
Associated Press researcher Shanshan Wang and writer Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report.