Sunday, 16 March 2008

Defense program no threat to others

Senior military experts from China and ASEAN member countries discuss a point at the "Military Modernization and Mutual Trust Building" dialogue in Beijing March 12, 2008. The talks were held to boost mutual understanding and trust. [China Daily]

The modernization of China's armed forces is neither targeted at nor capable of altering East Asia's strategic balance, Chinese experts said yesterday.

"China's military equipment is far too weak compared to that of the US-Japan alliance and hence, cannot change the region's military balance," a researcher with China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, Zhang Tuosheng, said on the sidelines of a dialogue between Chinese and ASEAN senior defense experts.

His remarks were in response to the Pentagon's annual report on China's military power, which says: "China's expanding and improving military capabilities are changing East Asian military balances".

China has taken pains to clarify the purpose of its rising military budget by issuing white papers, and through Defense Ministry spokesmen, frequent joint military drills, visits by Chinese warships to foreign ports and military dialogues at various levels, including the ongoing one with ASEAN, he said.

The China-ASEAN dialogue on "Military Modernization and Mutual Trust Building" has drawn 25 senior military experts.

The dialogue that began on Tuesday will continue till Saturday and focus on mainly four topics, including the purpose of China's military modernization and defensive strategy.

Colonel Yao Yunzhu, an expert in Asia-Pacific military studies with the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), said secessionist activities in Taiwan is the greatest concern for China and the main reason behind its military programs.

China is also trying to raise the living conditions of its troops and tackle non-traditional threats such as terrorism, epidemics and natural disasters, Yao said.

AMS President Lt-Gen Liu Chengjun reiterated, "China's military modernization conforms to the State policy of pursuing the road of peaceful development and building a harmonious world".

The Philippines' military attach to China Arthur Ang found China's military modernization "understandable" after listening to yesterday's presentations.

"One good thing is that China is open and willing to build mutual confidence through such dialogues that can help us understand how and why it is modernizing its armed forces."

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2008

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