The People"s Liberation Army (PLA) will follow the path of peaceful development, stay committed to safeguarding national sovereignty and interests, and help maintain regional and world peace, China"s Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe said on Sunday in Singapore.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right path forward amid growing uncertainty and instability around the world, Wei, also a State councilor, said in a speech during a Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"No approaches to regional issues should resort to military blocs, nor should they undermine the interests of others," Wei said.
He criticized the United States for its military support to Taiwan and naval operations in the South China Sea, which have undermined China"s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.
"Over the years, some have been recklessly hyping up, exaggerating and dramatizing the "China threat theory"," he said. "It is partly due to a lack of understanding of China"s history, culture and policies, but more likely due to misunderstanding, prejudice or even a hidden agenda."
China follows the path of peaceful development, and this commitment is enshrined in the constitutions of both the Communist Party of China and the People"s Republic of China, Wei said.
"If this is not convincing enough for some people, nothing will be," he said.
"In the future, no matter how strong it becomes, China shall never threaten anyone, seek hegemony or establish spheres of influence," Wei said. "It does not conform to China"s values and national interests."
China instead adopts a military strategy of active defense with emphasis on defense, self-defense and post-strike response.
Its purpose is entirely for self-defense and to cope with security threats using reasonable and appropriate defense expenditure, Wei said.
"China enhances its national defense to meet the legitimate needs to defend its own security, as well as contribute to the world force for peace," he said.
"The PLA has no intention of causing anybody trouble, but it is not afraid to face trouble head on. Should anyone risk crossing China"s bottom line, the PLA will resolutely take action and defeat all enemies," Wei added.
At the same time, China is an active supporter of UN Peacekeeping Operations.
It is the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and a major contributor of funds, with a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops ready to be deployed, Wei said.
China has for years promoted bilateral and multilateral security cooperation, he said.
"The Chinese military is ready to work with militaries from other Asia-Pacific countries to jointly respond to challenges, promote the building of an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future and safeguard peace and stability in the region," he said.
Soundbites from the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore
We sense significant differences between China and the US on some very difficult issues. It is very positive for Wei to attend the dialogue to present China"s point of view. You can"t solve all the problems with dialogue, but it is important to have different views and this helps people figure out how the situation is evolving.
-- Pierre Noel, senior fellow in economic and energy security at IISS
It is essential for China to send its defense minister to the event to project a very senior and authoritative voice, and engage with viewpoints that it might disagree. Sending Wei also means China recognizes that Asia-Pacific is a multipolar region and China really has to listen to other nations" voices.
-- Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University
The defense minister has definitively identified the Taiwan question as a redline. People must recognize China as a formidable force and cannot tell it what to do, like few centuries ago. The key issue here is building trust through dialogue and transparency, and avoiding critical errors of judgment.
-- Alexey Muraviev, associate professor of national security at Curtin University, Australia