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China Defends Military Following Cheney-Led Attacks

Premier Wen Jiabao (seen here with President Bush) also said in comments published Tuesday that his nation's economic and military rise should not be a concern for the rest of the world.
by Karl Malakunas
Beijing (AFP) Feb 27, 2007
China insisted Tuesday it posed no military threat to the rest of the world, following a recent barrage of criticism led by US Vice President Dick Cheney over its arms build-up and a satellite missile test. "China adheres to the role of peaceful development. We are an important force for maintaining peace and stability," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said when asked about Cheney's comments.

On a visit to Australia, Cheney said last Friday that China's military build-up and its anti-satellite weapons test last month clashed with its repeated claims to be a peaceful power.

"Last month's anti-satellite test and China's continued fast-paced military build-up are... not consistent with China's stated goal of a 'peaceful rise,'" Cheney said.

China's military budget officially increased to 35 billion dollars in 2006, up 14.7 percent over the previous year.

But the United States has repeatedly said it does not believe the official figures, comments repeated by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates in Washington last week.

"There are developments underway with respect to Chinese military capabilities that are a concern," Gates said.

"My suspicion is that the Chinese are spending more on their military than what will be reflected in the state budget."

With regard to the satellite test -- in which China shot down one of its own weather stations in space with a ballistic missile -- Qin reiterated that it should pose no global security concerns.

"Our position has been consistent on the peaceful use of outer space and China remains opposed to the weaponisation of space and an arms race in space," Qin said.

Premier Wen Jiabao also said in comments published Tuesday that his nation's economic and military rise should not be a concern for the rest of the world.

In a wide-ranging speech published in the Communist Party's leading People's Daily, Wen reiterated that China would never engage in a military arms race, seek to dominate global politics or impose its will on other nations.

"In foreign policy we will uphold the standard of peace, development and cooperation," Wen said.

"Although our national strength is increasing and our global status is higher and the international community is expecting more and more from us... there is no reason to change our guiding principles."

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin also responded heatedly to remarks by Shoichi Nakagawa, the policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who on Monday warned about the dangers of China's rising military might.

"Japan is much smaller than China but still has a huge military expenditure. Meanwhile, it makes claims of a Chinese threat," Qin said.

"So we should question what is the real purpose and motivation behind that. Don't you feel that is strange?"

Nakagawa said China's military build-up could result in Japan becoming a Chinese province within two decades and called on Beijing to clarify its military intentions.

Qin instead said Japan should be more open and honest in regards to its military.

"Japan has asked us to increase our transparency. We also ask Japan to increase their transparency," he said.

related report
China bites back at Japan on military
Beijing (AFP) Feb 27 - China on Tuesday heatedly rejected a top Japanese official's warning over a looming Chinese military threat, calling instead for Japan to explain its own moves to beef up its armed forces.

"Japan is much smaller than China but still has a huge military expenditure. Meanwhile it makes claims of a Chinese threat," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news briefing.

"So we should question what is the real purpose and motivation behind that. Don't you feel that is strange?"

Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said on Monday that China's military build-up could result in Japan becoming a Chinese province within two decades.

He also singled out China's internationally condemned test of a satellite-killer missile in January and called on China to clarify its intentions -- a sharp change from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to cultivate smoother relations with Japan's historic rival.

Qin called instead on Japan to clarify its own intentions.

"Japan has asked us to increase our transparency. We also ask Japan to increase their transparency. What is the purpose of remarks like that? Can they explain their military development and actions?" he said.

Despite Abe's overtures to China, his government's efforts to create a more robust military -- including the creation of a cabinet-level defence ministry for the first time since World War II -- have raised concerns in Asian countries that suffered severely from Japan's wartime agression.

Qin defended China's recent arms build-up, which was also criticised last week by US Vice President Dick Cheney, as necessary for its national security while vowing peaceful intentions.

"China has a long border both on the sea and land so it is natural for us to maintain a certain amount of national defence power to maintain our sovereignty and territoral integrity. This is indisputable and irrefutable," he said.

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Abe Plays Down China Warning From Aide
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 27 - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried Tuesday to prevent a row with China from spiralling after a top aide charged that Japan risks becoming a Chinese province due to Beijing's military spending.

China rejected the remarks by Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and questioned his motivations.

Nakagawa had called on Japan to question China's future intentions, in a sharp change from the Abe government's conciliatory tone on Beijing.

"If something goes awry in Taiwan in the next 15 years, then within 20 years Japan might become just another one of China's provinces," Nakagawa said Monday in the central city of Nagoya, as quoted by the Sankei Shimbun daily.

"If Taiwan comes under (China's) complete rule, Japan could be next," he was quoted as saying later at parliament. Officials said they did not have a transcript of his remarks.

Abe has worked to ease tensions between Japan and China since taking office in September, despite a career as a hardliner on security issues. He quickly played down Nakagawa's comments.

"It is meaningless to discuss just a part of the entire speech," Abe told reporters. "It's also been said in the past that Japan would become the 51st state of the United States."

Nakagawa is known for his hawkish views. He has called in recent months for Japan to consider developing nuclear weapons and to reconsider its apology to women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War II.

Nakagawa charged that China had ambitions beyond Taiwan, where nationalists fled from the mainland after losing the civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the island a province awaiting reunification.

"China has behaved calmly up to now in rising peacefully, but when the year 2010 is over, there is a possibility that it could continue in a non-peaceful way," Nakagawa said, as quoted by Kyodo News.

He said that if China is not seeking "hegemony," then it should make its military spending "more transparent and show that by its actions."

He singled out China's internationally condemned test of a satellite-killer missile in January. China became the third country after the United States and the former Soviet Union to shoot down an object in space.

"It wouldn't be odd if it conducted the experiment with Japan's satellite launches in mind," Nakagawa said.

Japan has repeatedly voiced concern about Beijing's growing military expenditure, a view shared last week by US Vice President Dick Cheney on a tour of Asia and Australia.

China on Tuesday rejected the remarks by both Nakagawa and Cheney and called on Japan itself to be more transparent.

"Japan is much smaller than China but still has a huge military expenditure. Meanwhile, it makes claims of a Chinese threat," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news briefing in Beijing.

"So we should question what is the real purpose and motivation behind that. Don't you feel that is strange?"

Abe has sought to mend ties between Japan and China which were badly strained by his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a controversial war shrine.

But Abe's popularity has tumbled since his initial diplomatic successes, with voters questioning his authority after a series of gaffes by top aides.

related report
Japan faces becoming 'Chinese province'
A top Japanese policymaker has warned that Japan risks becoming a Chinese province due to the Asian giant's growing military spending, domestic media said Tuesday. Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, called on Japan to question China's future intentions, despite an effort by the two countries to ease tensions.

"If something goes awry in Taiwan in the next 15 years, then within 20 years Japan might become just another one of China's provinces," Nakagawa said Monday in the central city of Nagoya, as quoted by the Sankei Shimbun daily.

"If Taiwan comes under (China's) complete rule, Japan could be next," he was quoted as saying later at parliament.

The ruling party said it did not have a transcript of Nakagawa's remarks.

Nakagawa is known for his hawkish views. He has called in recent months for Japan to consider developing nuclear weapons and to reconsider its apology to women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War II.

His remarks are a sharp change of tone from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has worked to repair ties with China since taking office in September.

Nakagawa charged that China had ambitions beyond Taiwan, where nationalists fled from the mainland after losing the civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the island a province awaiting reunification.

"China has behaved calmly up to now in rising peacefully, but when the year 2010 is over, there is a possibility that it could continue in a non-peaceful way," Nakagawa said, as quoted by Kyodo News.

He said that if China is not seeking "hegemony," then it should make its military spending "more transparent and show that by its actions."

Japan has repeatedly voiced concern about Beijing's growing military expenditure, a view shared last week by US Vice President Dick Cheney on an Asian tour.

China's military spending "is growing annually at a pace of 15 to 18 percent, but this does not include expenses for research in developing nuclear weapons or arms imports," Nakagawa said.

"If we look at the total and consider what this would mean in terms of increased strength, it is a very serious situation," Nakagawa said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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