As China’s military moves and North Korea’s bluster shifts the Obama administration’s attention to Asia, China issued the U.S. a thinly veiled warning: back off.

That message came through in a defense white paper released yesterday by the Chinese military. While noting that the U.S. is “adjusting its Asia-Pacific security strategy,” the paper said China had a duty to protect its sovereignty at a time when it is engaged in territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China and East China Seas.

While strengthening military ties with all three of those countries has become a part of the U.S. foreign military strategy, China believes the efforts to enhance military deployment and strengthen alliances in the region are not conducive to upholding peace and stability, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a press briefing in Beijing.

“We hope that the relevant parties would do more to enhance the mutual trust between the countries in the region and contribute to peace and stability in this region,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.

The statements came as the Chinese expressed condolences and condemnation for the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Tuesday press briefing that China is firmly opposed to any attack aimed at common people, according to the Xinhua news agency.

“We extend our deep condolences and sincere regards to the victims and their relatives,” she said.

Hua said one female Chinese student was injured in the accident and that the Chinese Consulate General in New York has sent personnel to visit her in hospital.

The Chinese white paper accuses the Japanese government of “making trouble” over disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries — a claim that angered Japan. 

Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said China’s assertions were “unacceptable.”

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