An annual report from the Pentagon has named China as the biggest supporters of “economic espionage”, furthering concern over Beijing’s military build-up that could pose risks to US interests and economic security.

The Pentagon believes Beijing spends more than its “official” military expenditure figure, of $180 billion.

The latest report shows China’s sustained investment in advanced missile technologies and cyber warfare capabilities. Chinese espionage is reportedly directed at US technological information, including defense-related companies.

US acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Helvey claimed that cyberattackes came “from China”, avoiding direct accusations to its government. Cyber espionage could lead to military developments that could compete with the US systems and is the main concern for Pentagon.

China has been developing aircraft and carriers to further its long-term military ambitions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated “China is committed to maintaining and promoting the peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, and even the world”.