China said yesterday it faced an increasingly “volatile” Asian region where the US has expanded its strategic footprint, maintaining that better military ties between Beijing and Washington rested on respect for each other’s interests.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spelled out its concerns about US intentions in a policy paper setting out broad priorities for Beijing’s growing military forces.
The “white paper” said that while China wants to avoid military confrontation and focus on growing its economy, it sees potential security challenges across the region, many of them bound up with Washington’s web of alliances and military forces across Asia, including on the tense Korean peninsula.
“Profound changes are taking shape in the Asia-Pacific strategic landscape. Relevant major powers are increasing their strategic investment,” said China’s defense white paper for 2010 which, despite its date, was released only yesterday.
“The United States is reinforcing its regional military alliances and increasing its involvement in regional security affairs,” it said. “Suspicion about China, interference and countering moves against China from the outside are on the increase.”
US weapons sales continue to Taiwan, hampering the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, the paper said. It also singled out the Korean peninsula and Afghanistan as sources of worry.
“Asia-Pacific security is becoming more intricate and volatile,” the paper said. “International military competition remains fierce.”
Last year, Beijing and Washington wrangled over North Korea, an ally of China, which ignited regional alarm by allegedly torpedoing a South Korean navy ship, and later shelling a South Korean island.
North Korea denied downing the ship, and China refused to join other countries in condemning Pyongyang. Instead, Beijing chided the US for holding military exercises with South Korea in seas across from China’s coast.
PLA officer, Geng Yansheng (耿雁生), said Beijing nonetheless wants better military ties with Washington, and that a senior Chinese commander, the PLA Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde (陳炳德), would visit the US next month, following on from US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to Beijing in January.
“Healthy and stable military ties is important for both sides in striving to build a China-US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit,” Geng, who is a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, told a news conference to introduce the white paper.
Geng indicated that China’s concerns about Taiwan and other issues that it calls “core” strategic interests have not eased altogether.
“There remain some difficulties and challenges in China-US military relations,” he said, adding that defusing them required, “in particular, respecting each other’s core interests and major security concerns.”