Home International Chinese military stresses peaceful aims, closer US ties

Chinese military stresses peaceful aims, closer US ties


Washington : China’s second highest-ranking military officer offered assurances that Beijing’s military build-up was entirely for peaceful purposes, at the start of a visit to the US.

Speaking at a Washington-based think-tank ahead of a private meeting with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, General Xu Caihou said Monday that China had no intentions of regional hegemony or starting an arms race in Asia.

Xu, vice chairman of the People’s Liberation Army’s Central Military Commission, called for closer ties with the US and said both militaries were tackling similar goals: confronting terrorism, self-defence and aiding disaster relief.

“We are now predominantly committed to peaceful development, and we will not and could not challenge or threaten any other country,” Xu told the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, complaining of “suspicions and misunderstandings” about Beijing’s intentions.

“China’s defence policy remains defensive,” he said.

Any Chinese offensive would be launched “only after the enemy has started an attack”.

But China suffers from “secessionist” movements and had yet to become a “united” country, Xu said, referring to long-standing tensions over Taiwan, Tibet and unrest between Muslim Uighurs and ethnic Chinese in the western province of Xinjiang.

Xu’s visit to the US is aimed at building trust between the two militaries. He will meet US defence officials and tour a number of military installations. Gates travelled to China two years ago.

The US has urged China to be more open about its military buildup and budgeting process.

China has the second-highest military budget in the world, though it is still about one-fourth that of US defence spending.

“China will always be a staunch force for promoting world peace and common development,” Xu said, noting the country’s participation in UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

He said economic development remained China’s top priority.