China issues white paper on defence

Beijing, April 16 (IANS) China Tuesday issued a white paper on national defence, elaborating on its new security challenges in times of peace and the diversified employment of its armed forces to cope with these challenges.

The document, the eighth of its kind to be issued by the Chinese government since 1998, warns that the Asia-Pacific region has become an increasingly significant stage for world economic development and strategic interaction between major powers, reported Xinhua.

“The United States is adjusting its Asia-Pacific security strategy, and the regional landscape is undergoing profound changes,” the white paper said.

President Xi Jinping once said a strong military is needed for the realization of the Chinese dream, the great rejuvenation of the nation.

Fundamentally, the diversified employment of the armed forces is meant to safeguard national territorial sovereignty and development interests, as well as provide firm security guarantees for the realization of the Chinese dream, said Chen Zhou, a senior research fellow with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Military Science Academy.

Chen, who participated in compiling the white paper, said China always insists on a peaceful path of development, but will also never relinquish its legitimate rights.

“China will never trade sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, which are its core interests,” said Chen.

The paper warns that China still faces multiple and complicated security threats and challenges.

Some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region and frequently makes the situation there more tense, the paper says, without naming a specific country.

The paper notes that on issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighbouring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, and Japan is making trouble over the issue of the Diaoyu Islands.

The threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism are on the rise, while serious natural disasters and public health incidents keep occurring.

“Factors affecting social harmony and stability are growing in number, and the security risks to China’s overseas interests are on the increase,” it says.

China has an arduous task in safeguarding its national unification, territorial integrity and development interests, according to the white paper.

In the face of such challenges, China reiterated its commitment to peaceful development.

China advocates a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security, the white paper says.

“China will never seek hegemony or behave in a hegemonic manner, nor will it engage in military expansion,” the document explains.

China will build a strong national defence and powerful armed forces, which are “commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests.”

The basic duty of the armed forces is to fight wars and its mission in times of peace is to prepare for war, said Wu Xihua, a senior officer with the PLA General Staff Headquarters, at a press conference on the white paper held in Beijing Tuesday, adding that no army can be exempt from this duty.

“The Chinese armed forces focus on protecting the country’s sovereignty and security when it highlights capacity building under the principle of being able to fight a war and win a war,” Wu said. “This is a reasonable and normal move.”

But the country always sticks to peacefully settling international disputes and resolving problems with neighbouring countries through dialogue, he said.

The paper elaborates on the country’s diversified employment of the armed forces to cope with new security challenges during times of peace.

“In addition to implementing a defensive military strategy and winning local wars under the conditions of informationization, the armed forces are employed to effectively conduct military operations outside of war and fulfill international obligations,” according to the paper.

The employment of the armed forces responds to China’s core security needs and aims to maintain peace, contain crises and win wars, it says.

The Chinese armed forces are employed to safeguard borders, coastal and territorial air security, and they will strengthen combat-readiness and combat-oriented exercises and drills, it says.

They will also readily respond to and resolutely deter any provocative action that undermines China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

Deepening security cooperation and fulfilling international duties are important principles for the employment of the armed forces, the paper says.

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