But no one should underestimate strong resolve of military, defense minister says
State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe speaks on China's vision for regional order at the fifth plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. (LI XIAOWEI / FOR CHINA DAILY)
China's development is not a threat, but a significant contribution to world peace and development, and the country will also firmly defend its interests when necessary, State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday.
"China's development is irreversible, and the country firmly adheres to the path of peaceful development," he said at the international security forum in a speech on the theme of China's vision for regional order.
Peaceful reunification is the largest aspiration of the Chinese people, and we are willing to put our best efforts into that.
General Wei Fenghe, state councilor and defense minister
Wei said China's achievements have been made through its people's hard work and at a huge cost, instead of colonization, exploitation and plunder. "The Chinese military is always an army of peace and will also resolutely safeguard the country's sovereignty, security and development interests," he said.
Wei repeated China's position on Taiwan. "The Taiwan question is China's internal affair and the unification with the motherland will absolutely be achieved," he said, adding that "Taiwan separatists" will not come to a good end and foreign interference will categorically fail.
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"Peaceful reunification is the largest aspiration of the Chinese people, and we are willing to put our best efforts into that," Wei said.
But he warned that "if anyone dares to separate Taiwan from the motherland, China has no choice but to go to war, fight at all cost, and fight to the end."
"No one should ever underestimate the strong resolve and ability of the Chinese military to safeguard its territorial integrity," he said.
Wei also spoke on China-US relations, which he said are now standing at a critical point.
"China opposes defining the China-US ties as a competition," he said, adding that the US would make a historic and strategic mistake if it regards China as a threat, rival or even enemy.
He urged the US not to smear or try to contain China, not to interfere in its internal affairs or harm its interests.
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"The two militaries should enhance strategic communication to avoid miscalculation and manage risks and crises to avoid conflicts," Wei said.
He also expressed opposition to hegemonism and power politics.
Just on Saturday, the day before Wei spoke, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin detailed his country's "Indo-Pacific" strategy in a speech and accused China of threatening to undermine security, stability and prosperity in the region.
Wei responded by criticizing the US's "Indo-Pacific" strategy as a way to "create small circles under the pretext of freedom and openness".
"The so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is designed to contain another country by coercing regional countries and hyping up conflicts against certain countries," Wei said. "We believe any kind of strategy should go with the trends of history and the time, and should benefit the regional stability and countries there."
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The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic and promising economic powerhouse in the world, he said, and all countries should contribute to pursuing lasting peace and universal security in the region
The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic and promising economic powerhouse in the world, he said, and all countries should contribute to pursuing lasting peace and universal security in the region.
Zhang Chi, an associate professor at the People's Liberation Army National Defence University, said that according to his observations, most Asia Pacific countries have a shared opinion with China on the region's security and would not follow the US to contain China.
"I could see many Southeast Asian delegates nod and applaud when hearing Wei's words of 'enhancing communication and avoiding miscalculation'," said Zhang, also a member of Chinese delegation, who has listened to several speeches by defense officials from Southeast Asian countries at the Dialogue.
Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science, said that the US is attempting to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region by creating a sense of insecurity in the region.
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"The 'China threat' theory would be the best catalyst for a sense of insecurity that could make regional countries look toward the US," he said, noting that the military is the best way for the US to maintain its predominance in the Asia-Pacific region.
Lieutenant General Zhang Zhenzhong, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, said the US's "Indo-Pacific" strategy is one that causes division, instigates confrontation and undermines peace in the Asia-Pacific. It serves only the US's own interests, and therefore is doomed to fail."
Wei, in his speech, emphasized that China aims to make the South China Sea a sea of "peace, friendship and cooperation" and that region's countries should remain vigilant and prevent any interference from countries outside the region.