The United States must rethink its huge military outlays, big footprint abroad and summon the courage to defuse debt woes, Chinese state-run media has said, reflecting the political pressures on Beijing with its big stash of dollar assets.

Commentaries in official Chinese media said the economic troubles facing the US and European Union grew out of the political dysfunctions of the Western democracies and their unsustainable appetite for spending.

The Xinhua news agency also linked the weekend US debt downgrade to another Chinese complaint: US military spending, which Beijing sees as aimed at frustrating China's rise.

‘Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States, as the world's sole superpower, has relied on its powerful military to meddle everywhere in international affairs, advancing hegemonism, and paying no heed to whether the economy can support this,’ said a commentary issued by Xinhua, which noted the heavy bills for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘Now is the right time for the United States, trapped in economic hardship, to reflect on its domineering thinking and deeds,’ said Xinhua, which urged Washington to ‘change its policies of interference abroad’.

Such media comments do not amount to a definitive response from China's top leaders, who may tread a more careful public line, knowing that their comments could stoke market alarm and a political backlash in the US.

Officials have been mute about the blow to Washington after Standard and Poor's stripped the US of its top-tier AAA credit rating.

But media have decried the potential damage to China's growth and huge holdings of US treasury assets.

‘It must be understood that if the US, Europe and other advanced economies fail to shoulder their responsibility and continue their incessant messing around over selfish interests, this will seriously impede stable development of the global economy,’ said a commentary in the People's Daily newspaper.

‘People have deepening misgivings about the political decisiveness of the Western nations, and this has also seriously hurt global investors' confidence in world economic recovery, exacerbating market turmoil.’