BEIJING – China does not need to steal U.S. weapons technology to modernize its military because it is capable of developing the systems on its own, China’s Defense Ministry said Thursday, denying a recent report that it had hacked into designs for more than two dozen major U.S. weapons systems.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday on a confidential assessment prepared for the Pentagon that revealed widespread electronic intrusions by China that might have compromised defense systems.

The report, produced by the U.S. Defense Science Board, cataloged intrusions into programs critical to U.S. missile defense, as well as combat aircraft and ships. Stealing such designs, experts warned, compromises U.S. capabilities even as it helps China accelerate its military modernization at little cost.