U.S. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, in a statement, said he had concerns after reviewing the latest report to Congress on Chinese military developments.
He said he was concerned that China was being overly assertive in the western Pacific, adding these actions had "significant consequences" for security in the region. Furthermore, he said, the Chinese economy gives Beijing reason to believe it can capitalize on the global financial crisis by exploiting U.S. economic uncertainty.
McKeon said that if U.S. allies in the region came to believe that Washington was sacrificing strategic interests to control spending, regional security would be jeopardized.
"This is an unacceptable outcome in such a vital region of the globe," he said.
Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, in a briefing to reporters, said China's expanding military capabilities made it an important partner in peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.
Washington, he said, welcomes a "strong" China that is an active contributor to peace and security in the region.
"However, the pace and scope of China's sustained military investments have allowed China to pursue capabilities that we believe are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties," he said.