China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, throwing diplomatic language to the wind, has told the United States in no uncertain terms to "shut up and keep quiet" on the subject of Beijing's growing military spending.
Interviewed for a BBC radio programme on the topic Thursday, Sha Zukang also said China would "do the business" and sacrifice its own people's lives if any nation supported a declaration of independence by Taiwan.
Responding to jitters within the Bush administration about Beijing's spiraling military budget, Sha said the United States itself accounts for half of the entire world's military spending.
"The China population is six times or five times that of the United States," he said. "Why blame China?... It's better for the US to shut up and keep quiet. It's much, much better."
His voice rising, Sha continued: "It's the US's sovereign right to do whatever they deem good for them -- but don't tell us what is good for China. Thank you very much!"
Sha was equally explicit on Taiwan declaring independence with US backing -- a prospect that the BBC programme, by former Beijing correspondent Carrie Gracie, called the motivating factor behind Chinese military spending.
"The moment Taiwan declares independence, supported by whoever, China will have no choice," he said.
"We will do the business through whatever means available to my government. Nobody should have any illusions on that. We will do the business at any cost."
He added: "It's not a matter of how big Taiwan is, but for China, one inch of the territory is more valuable than the life of our people. We will never concede on that."
China's rising military spending, which has grown by double digits for much of the last 15 years, has caused concern in the United States and amongst China's neighbors in Asia.
In March the National People's Congress (parliament), largely a rubber-stamp for decisions taken at the top level of the Chinese Communist Party, approved a 14.7-percent increase in military spending to 35 billion dollars (27 billion euros) this year.
Although this is paltry compared to the 419 billion dollar (325 billion euro) US defense budget in 2006, the Pentagon last year estimated that China's defense spending was two to three times the publicly announced figure.
In a speech in Beijing in July, Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan said modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) remained a priority, the China News Service reported.
"The entire military must eye the historic destiny of China's military in the new century and new era and push forward the main line of a Chinese-style revolution in military affairs," he was quoted as saying.
He added: "We must unswervingly fulfill our sacred duty to defend state sovereignty, territorial integrity and security and never tolerate Taiwan independence and never permit Taiwan independence forces under any name or under any circumstances or form to split Taiwan from the motherland."
Copyright © 2006 AFP