Washington: Seeking to mitigate concerns in the US over China’s rising military capabilities, a top Chinese General has said his country did not have the military might to challenge the US Army and its ability was largely intended to target separatists.

Visiting Chinese General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), said China's efforts to boost its national defense and military capabilities after decades of reform and opening up were ‘compensatory' in nature.

"During my recent visit to United States, I was surprised by the sophistication of the US military, including its weapons and equipment and doctrines and so on. I can tell you that China does not have the capability to challenge the United States," he said.

"As a matter of fact, the reconnaissance activities along Chinese coasts by US military aircraft and vessels are seen in China as a deterrent. What I'm trying to say, that we do not have the capability to challenge the United States," Chen told Pentagon reporters at a joint news conference with Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Chen said China's efforts to enhance its military capabilities are mainly targeted at separatist forces "as headed by Lee Teng-Hui and Chen Shui-bian, who have attempted to split Taiwan away from China".

Gen Chen said his visit to the United States is a part of the consensus reached between Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama early this year.

The two armies, he said, agreed that the opportunities facing military-to-military relations far outweigh the challenges.

"In the new international landscape under the new and complex and volatile international situation, enhanced cooperation between our two militaries serves the common interests of our two countries and two peoples, and also benefits peace and stability in this region and the world at large," he said.

Mullen said the military relationship between China and the US is vital and critical in support of the larger diplomatic relationship and economic engagement.

The two countries, he said, committed to conducting a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise together next year.

Conceding that their perspectives about issues are not always aligned, Mullen argued frequent dialogue can foster cooperation where interests converge and provide some context in those areas where there are differences.

"We are ready to work with the American side to implement the important consensus reached between our Presidents regarding the development of the military-to- military and state-to-state relations, show respect to each other's core interests and major concerns, properly handle our differences and problems, enhance dialogue and communication, deepen practical cooperation so as to push forward the healthy and stable development of our ties," Chen said. Gen Chen said China's efforts were focused on growing its economy to ensure that its 1.3 billion people are better off.

Chen insisted that given the economic difference between the two countries, China cannot match the US in defence spending as it needs more money on civilian causes.

"So if we spend our money, which is much less than that of the United States, to buy weapons and equipment to challenge the United States, the Chinese people simply would say no," he said.

"As is known to all, the United States is a superpower in the world today, and how can China easily have the ability to challenge it? That is simply not part of Chinese culture, and we do not have that capability," he said.

The General said his country wants to strive for world peace, stability and development and the well-being of the humankind.

The United States has far more advanced weapons and equipments, he added.

(Agencies)