Beijing: China's military has been taking increasingly dangerous actions to deter US forces in the Asia-Pacific region. This includes manoeuvres to intimidate American aircraft, while also bolstering its nuclear capabilities, the Pentagon said in a report released on Thursday.

In the past two years, the US has recorded more "coercive and risky" air intercepts by the Chinese military than in the previous decade, the US Defense Department said in its annual report to Congress on China's military might.

China is also continuing to build up its strategic nuclear arsenal and has most likely amassed 500 nuclear warheads as of May, the Pentagon said, an increase of about 100 over last year's estimate.

The Pentagon report says that since 2021, the United States has recorded more than 180 intercepts of US aircraft by Chinese military forces in the region.

Beijing has long stood up to US military aircraft and ships that operate in international skies and seas near China.

China has been increasingly assertive in the region, from building military infrastructure in the disputed South China Sea to buzzing planes flown by the United States, Canada and other Western allies. Such moves risk a midair crash and a wider crisis, as per The New York Times.

Examples cited in the report and a separate press statement from the Pentagon earlier this week included a Chinese fighter jet that sped toward a US military plane, dipped under its nose and later came as close as ten feet underneath it; a Chinese plane that flew within 20 feet of the nose of a US plane, which took evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision; and a Chinese fighter jet that fired eight flares while only 900 feet from a US plane.

Beijing did not immediately comment on the Pentagon report. Chinese officials have previously depicted the air intercepts as reasonable responses to foreign military patrols that threatened the country's security, as per The New York Times.