Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2009
Beijing has defended its rapid military modernization and the development of advanced weapons in the Pacific as meeting its minimum defense requirements.
Ahead of his Tuesday meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, Gen. Xu Caihou, assured that Beijing had no expansionist ambitions and wants cooperative international relations.
“We will never seek hegemony, military expansion or an arms race,” he told foreign policy experts on Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
Xu is the highest level Chinese military official to visit the US amid concerns in Washington over China’s emergence as a potential high tech military rival.
Xu dismissed ‘unfounded’ concerns over China’s development of cruise and ballistic missiles capable of striking US warships in the Pacific.
“It is a limited capability, and limited weapons and equipment for the minimum requirement of its national security,” he said.
Xu said his country’s annual increases in defense spending was ‘quite low’ both in real terms and as a percentage of its gross domestic product, recalling US defense spending amounts to 4.8 percent of GDP, compared with China’s 1.4 percent.
The general acknowledged western concern over Beijing’s growing military prowess, but insisted army’s primary focus was on protecting China’s economic development and defending against rising separatist and extremist challenges.
Xu said China wanted to boost military-to-military relations with the United States, but warned that Beijing regarded recent incursions into its 200-mile economic zone by US naval vessels as an infringement of its sovereignty.
Xu’s week-long visit is seen as the latest effort to improve US-Chinese military ties, temporarily severed last year over a proposed multi-billion-dollar US arms package to Taiwan.
This article was posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 11:53 am