Defence Minister Liang Guanglie brushed off concerns on China’s military buildup, saying it “poses no threat to the world”, amid what is being seen as growing assertiveness in the region’s troubled waters.

“The Chinese military must develop, but there’s no ‘worry’ or ‘fear’ as the outside world says,” Liang said at the Defence Ministry ahead of a meeting with visiting US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “That’s not what China is about.”

China’s military spending increased at a double-digit rate as it seeks to expand its naval capabilities, drawing fears that it could threaten its neighbors’ territorial sovereignty.

Washington has long condemned Beijing’s secretive military and the focus of its foreign policy has “pivoted” to Asia in an apparent move to counter its rising power.

China called for the US “not to get involved”. Liang stressed the need for cooperation between Beijing and Washington.

“We should develop the ties between us, between our two militaries, touch on some of our differences, resolve conflicting views,” Laing told Reuters.

“We should push forward the development of our two powers, and push forward the development of a new China-US military relationship,” he said. “Our two countries’ ties are very important”.

China said it successfully landed fighter jets on its new aircraft carrier on Sunday, worrying some by saying it signified “one step closer to combat readiness.”