A senior military officer downplayed concerns from the United States about China's military growth and explained that the buildup was justified given its vast territory and the severity of challenges.
Xu Caihou, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said in a Monday speech before a leading Washington think tank that China's military growth was not a threat and the country will steadfastly stick to the path of peaceful development.
He has been in the US since Sunday at the invitation of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and will be touring major US military bases through Nov 3.
His visit is meant to boost communication between the two nations' militaries.
"We will not and could not challenge or threaten any other country," he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "certainly not the United States."
"I want to make clear that China's limited weapons and equipment are entirely to meet the minimum requirements for national security," Xu said through a translator.
US officials have expressed alarm about what they see as China's "unprecedented military expansion" in the past year. Last week, Gates said better dialogue was needed to avoid "mistakes and miscalculations".