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China faces threats but will defend itself: government
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 16, 2013


China dismisses New York Times Pulitzer report
Beijing (AFP) April 16, 2013 - China dismissed a New York Times report that exposed the wealth amassed by the family of former Premier Wen Jiabao as having "ulterior motives" on Tuesday, after it won a Pulitzer Prize.

The story, which was published in October last year, alleged close relatives of Wen have made billions of dollars in business dealings.

It provoked anger from authorities in China, who said it was part of a "smear" by "voices" opposed to the country's development. The Times' Chinese and English websites were subsequently blocked in China and remain inaccessible.

"Our position towards this issue is very clear. We believe the relevant report by the New York Times reporter is with ulterior motives," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing Tuesday.

The Time's Shanghai bureau chief David Barboza, who wrote the story, told AFP Tuesday that he was "honoured" after the report won the award for international reporting.

The Pulitzer jury on Monday called it a "striking exposure".

Chinese ships in disputed waters: Japan
Tokyo (AFP) April 16, 2013 - Three Chinese government ships entered the territorial waters of disputed Tokyo-controlled islands on Tuesday, Japan's coastguard said.

The three surveillance ships were navigating in the 12-nautical-mile zone around the Senkakus, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyus, as of 9:20 am (0020 GMT), the coastguard said.

Chinese government ships have frequently spent time around the disputed island chain since Tokyo nationalised three of the isles last September.

However, the frequency of what Japan sees as intrusions on its sovereignty has decreased in recent months and the rhetoric between Asia's two largest economies has cooled.

The islands are also claimed by Taiwan.

China took aim at the United States and its expanding military alliances with Asian allies on Tuesday, saying that the security build-up was a threat to regional peace.

The US has pivoted its foreign policy towards Asia in recent years, alarming China and emboldening nations embroiled in maritime territorial spats with their giant neighbour, including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

"Some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding military presence in the region, and frequently making the situation there tenser," China's defence ministry said in an annual white paper.

It did not name any particular nation, but in a press briefing at the launch of the report, defence ministry spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun made a thinly disguised swipe at US policy.

Asked whether Washington's influence was growing he said: "Certain efforts made to highlight the military agenda, enhance military deployment and also strengthen alliances are not in line with common interests and are not conducive to the upholding of peace and stability in the region."

The white paper on China's armed forces said that the nation "still faces multiple and complicated security threats and challenges".

It also accused "neighbouring countries" of complicating and exacerbating tensions, and explicitly targeted Japan for "making trouble over the Diaoyu islands".

The East China Sea islands are administered by Tokyo, which refers to them as the Senkaku, and have been the subject of a row between the two Asian powers that escalated dramatically last year after Japan nationalised some of them.

Both Beijing and Tokyo have in recent months scrambled fighter jets near the islands to assert their claims to the area -- a region where the seabed is believed to harbour valuable mineral reserves.

A Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP that Tokyo had protested to the Chinese embassy over the defence report. "China's peculiar argument about the issue is not acceptable," he said.

Yang said the paper revealed for the first time the strength of some units within the Chinese armed forces -- the world's largest active military.

He said the release of the document was aimed at "better introducing" the development of China's armed forces to a domestic and foreign public.

"China is very candid in terms of its strategic intentions," he said, adding: "We know that every country has its military secrets."

However, he did not explain why the declared fighting strength of 1,483,000 was markedly different from the 2,300,000-strong armed forces which most analysts claim Beijing commands.

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing last weekend as part of an Asia tour, and met with China's new leader Xi Jinping who hailed the relationship as "at a new historical stage".

But in a commentary issued shortly after, China's official Xinhua news agency said America's strategic "pivot to Asia" could breed mistrust, and Washington should "help seek reasonable and workable solutions to regional issues".

Beijing has repeatedly asserted that it does not seek an expansionist policy as it continues its "peaceful rise".

But it has boosted its declared military spending in recent years, and last month announced the latest in a series of double-digit rises, with a 10.7 percent increase last month.

China's military has undergone rapid modernisation in recent years. Last year the navy took delivery of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and it has also developed stealth fighter and anti-satellite capabilities.

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