The Chinese Defence Ministry issued the white paper outlining plans to build a high-tech Army and chided the US for “undermining the global strategic stability” ….writes Gaurav Sharma. What China calls Asia-Pacific has increasingly been referred to as “Indo-Pacific” by the US where it wants India, Japan and Australia to form a bloc to counter the flexing of muscles by Beijing in the region
Without naming “Quad” – the informal grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India in Beijing’s backyard, China’s white paper on defence said competition in the Asia-Pacific is bringing uncertainties to regional security.
The Chinese Defence Ministry issued the white paper outlining plans to build a high-tech Army and chided the US for “undermining the global strategic stability”.
“The world economic and strategic centre continues to shift towards the Asia-Pacific. The region has become a focus of major country competition, bringing uncertainties to regional security,” said the white paper titled “China’s National Defence in the New Era”.
“Asia-Pacific countries are increasingly aware that they are members of a community with a shared destiny. Addressing differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation has become a preferred policy option for regional countries, making the region a stable part of the global landscape,” the document said.
What China calls Asia-Pacific has increasingly been referred to as “Indo-Pacific” by the US where it wants India, Japan and Australia to form a bloc to counter the flexing of muscles by Beijing in the region.
Known as “Quad,” the idea of the bloc was floated by Japan in 2007 but India had refused to be a part of it, fearing the move could anger Beijing. However, with Beijing pursuing an aggressive policy in the international waters, the four countries have begun talks again but these have not been formalized yet.
Beijing sees the potential grouping with suspicion and has dismissed it as “sea foam”.
Indo-Pacific or Asia-Pacific?
The white paper titled “China’s National Defence in the New Era,” consisting of 27,000 Chinese characters, was released by the State Council Information Office, with a view to helping the international community better understand China’s national defence.
The main body of the white paper was divided into six sections: the international security situation, China’s defensive national defence policy in the new era, fulfilling the missions and tasks of China’s armed forces in the new era, reform in China’s national defence and armed forces, reasonable and appropriate defence expenditure, and actively contributing to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
It is the 10th white paper on national defence the Chinese government has issued since 1998 and the first comprehensive one since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.
A number of figures were also used in the white paper and 10 tables on topics such as the breakdown of China’s defence expenditure and international cooperation activities were added as appendices.
Win-win cooperation remain the irreversible trends of the times, the white paper noted, adding that there are prominent destabilizing factors and uncertainties in international security, and the world is not yet a tranquil place.
According to the white paper, resolutely safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests is the fundamental goal of China’s national defence in the new era, whose distinctive feature is never seeking hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence.
Identifying this feature, the white paper clearly demonstrated the defensive nature of China’s national defence policy and the transparency of its strategic intent, said Shi Qingren, an associate research fellow with the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
“The white paper, for the first time, outlines China’s national defence policy system,” said Cao Yanzhong, an AMS research fellow. “It clearly shows the world the strategic direction, basic principles and global significance of the development of China’s national defence and the Chinese armed forces.”
The white paper gave detailed information on China’s defence expenditure, described as reasonable and appropriate.
Compared to other major countries, the ratios of China’s defence expenditure to GDP and to government expenditure, as well as the per capita defence expenditure of the country, remain at a relatively low level, it added.
The white paper also devoted a section to explain Chinese military’s efforts and contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind and fulfilling its international obligations as the armed forces of a major country.
China firmly believes that hegemony and expansion are doomed to failure, and security and prosperity shall be shared, said the white paper.