Monday, June 3, 2013

China calls for peace & stability, patrols in Asian seas legitimate

East meets West: China’s People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of general staff, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo (right), welcomes US Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of US forces in the Pacific region, to a meeting on the sidelines of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on Sunday. Reuters/Edgar Su


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The 12th Shangri-la Dialogue, also known as the Asia-Pacific Security Summit, has concluded in Singapore. China’s representative has insisted that its development is peaceful and poses no threat to the Asia-Pacific region.

Instead of focusing on conflicts, this year’s Shangri-la dialogue has taken the theme of cooperation. That theme was evident in a speech delivered by Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff, PLA, said, "China will always follow the road of peaceful development and remain committed to peaceful, open, co operative and mutually beneficial development. China’s development and prosperity is a major opportunity rather than a challenge or even a threat to countries in the Asia-Pacific region. China seeks cooperation and mutual benefit, and just its own exclusive development."

Qi also said that China encourages dialogue and consultation to resolve disputes in the region, but it will not waiver in its determination to safeguard national interests.

"China’s hope for sustained peace and stability in this region, and its stress on dialogue and consultation for the sake of peace by no means denotes unconditional compromise. Our resolve and commitment to safeguarding core national interests always stands steadfast."

In 2012, the US officially laid out a strategy of rebalancing its presence in the region. One year on, its relationship with China has become a center of attention at the Dialogue. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US welcomes the rise of a powerful and responsible China.

Chuck Hagel, US Defense Secretary, said, "We have interests here too, just as China and Russia and other nations have interests all over the world. We don’t want miscalculations and misunderstandings. The only way you do that is to talk to each other. You got to be direct with each other. You have to share with each other. I think we are on track with that. We’ve made progress on that. I think we’ve made continued progress and we’ll make more progress."

The Shangri-La Dialogue was launched in 2002. It aims to provide a platform for Asia-Pacific military and government officials to foster practical security cooperation in the region. - (Source: CNTV.cn)

Chinese patrols in Asian seas legitimate 

Chinese warships will continue to patrol waters where Beijing has territorial claims, a top general said Sunday, amid simmering rows with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea and islands controlled by Japan.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, defended the patrols as legitimate and said his country's sovereignty over the areas could not be disputed.

"Why are Chinese warships patrolling in East China Sea and South China Sea? I think we are all clear about this," Qi told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.

"Our attitude on East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty. We are very clear about that," he said through an interpreter.

"So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial."

Qi was responding to a question from a delegate after giving a speech in which he sought to assure neighbouring countries that China has no hegemonic ambitions.

"China has never taken foreign expansion and military conquering as a state policy," he said.

One delegate however said there appeared to be growing regional scepticism over China's peaceful intentions because it was inconsistent with moves to send naval patrols to waters where other countries also have claims.

China is locked in a territorial dispute with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.

The four states have partial claims to islands but China says it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the sea, including areas much closer to other countries and thousands of kilometres from the Chinese coast.

China also has a dispute with Japan over the Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.

"I do hope the statements of the good general today will be translated into action," Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters.

He said Qi's remarks about China having no hegemonic ambitions were "far from what is happening" in the sea.

Manila last month protested at what it called the "provocative and illegal presence" of a Chinese warship near Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by Philippine troops.

Among the other moves that have caused alarm were China's occupation of a shoal near the Philippines' main island last year, and the deployment in March of Chinese naval ships to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Malaysia's coast.

Competing claims have for decades made the area -- home to rich fishing grounds and vital global shipping lanes and believed to sit atop vast natural gas deposits -- one of Asia's potential military flashpoints.

China and Vietnam fought in 1974 and 1988 for control of islands in battles that left dozens of soldiers dead.

The US-China strategic rivalry also loomed large during the conference, with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday accusing Beijing of waging cyber espionage against the United States.

But General Qi on Sunday allayed concerns that China had dropped a pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

Omission of the "no-first-use" pledge in a recent defence white paper had created ripples in military circles and sparked speculation that China may have abandoned the policy.

Qi also distanced his government from claims by some Chinese scholars that the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, do not belong to Japan.

"This is only an article of particular scholars and their views on these issues... it does not represent the views of the Chinese government," he said.

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