Tuesday, April 16, 2013

China Warns Against Foreign Military Buildup in Asia

White Paper Content Seen as Veiled Criticism of US

China is warning other countries against military buildups in the Asia-Pacific, in what is being seen as another indirect criticism of the United States' strategic focus toward the region.

In an annual white paper released Tuesday, China's defense ministry said "some countries" are creating tensions in Asia by strengthening military alliances and expanding their military presence.

Though the report did not blame any particular nation, a ministry spokesperson, Yang Yujun, later repeated the accusation when asked if Washington's actions were raising tensions.

"Certain efforts made to highlight the military agenda, enhance military deployment and also strengthen alliances are not in line with the calling of the times and are not conducive to the upholding of peace and stability in the region."

China has regularly criticized the new U.S. focus on the region, known as the "pivot" or "rebalance" toward Asia. Many in Beijing fear the policy is aimed at containing China's rise, despite Washington's insistence to the contrary.

Maritime Disputes Addressed

The white paper also addressed China's increasingly bitter maritime disputes, saying "some neighboring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation."

Specifically, it accused Japan of "making trouble" over the issue of disputed islands in the East China Sea. Both countries have scrambled fighter jets to the islands in recent months, raising fears of a clash between the two Asian powers.

The report also sought to lessen international concern about China's own expanding presence in the region. It said China "will never seek hegemony" and will not "engage in military expansion."

China's military has undergone rapid expansion in recent years. As its influence increases, many of its neighbors have complained that Beijing has become increasingly assertive about its maritime claims to several energy-rich, strategic areas.

The white paper said China faces "multiple and complicated" threats, but vowed to defend its "national unification, territorial integrity and development interests."