DEFENSE POLICY: Geng Yansheng, spokesman with the Ministry of National Defense, speaks at a press conference unveiling China's latest national defense white paper on March 31 (LI MINGFANG)
China issued a white paper on national defense on March 31. The document, the seventh of its kind the Chinese Government has issued since 1998, says China will never seek hegemony or adopt the approach of military expansion now or in the future, no matter how its economy develops.
The white paper, entitled China's National Defense in 2010, gives an overall picture of the country's national defense ranging from the security environment and national defense policy to defense expenditure and arms control.
"The basic purpose of the white paper is to enhance trust and dispel misgivings with the manifesto of the national defense policy," said Chen Zhou, a research fellow with the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), who participated in compiling the defense paper.
"China will, as always, link the fundamental interests of the Chinese people with the common interests of people in the world and link its security with world peace," said Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, spokesman with the Ministry of National Defense, at a press conference unveiling the white paper. "China will actively participate in international security cooperation and work for global and regional peace and stability."
The goals and tasks of China's national defense in the new era are defined as safeguarding national sovereignty, maintaining social harmony and stability, promoting the modernization of national defense and maintaining world peace and stability.
In order to meet the new and changing needs of national security and adapt to new trends in world military development, the PLA has been investing additional efforts in reform, innovation and development, and advancing the overall transformation of the service, according to the white paper.
For the first time, the white paper adopts a special chapter to introduce the modernization of the PLA.
"As time changes, security challenges, including unconventional security threats, have increased globally. China needs to be better prepared for all these changes. The PLA has to speed up its modernization, while at the same time respond to any immediate threats to its security," said Chen in an interview with national broadcaster, CCTV.
The white paper says the PLA has grown from a single service into a strong military force featuring a range of services and arms, and is beginning to make progress toward having better information structure.
The PLA has laid down a three-step development strategy and adopted a step-change approach, which takes mechanization as the foundation and informationization as the focus.
"In modern times, informationization has become a core factor of the modernization of the PLA and China's national defense," said Wen Bing, another research fellow with the Academy of Military Sciences.
The PLA has formed a system with second-generation equipment as the main body and third-generation equipment as the backbone.
According to the white paper, the PLA Army has developed for its land operations a weaponry system with helicopters, armored assault vehicles and anti-air and suppression weapons as the spine.
The PLA Navy has built for its maritime operations a weaponry system with new submarines, surface vessels and surface attack aircraft at the core, and the PLA Air Force has formed for its air control operations a weaponry system with new types of combat aircraft and ground-to-air missile systems as the spine.
The PLA Second Artillery Force has set up a ground-to-ground weaponry system with medium- and long-range missiles as the spine.
Recent emergency rescue and disaster relief operations, counter-terrorism exercises, and fully equipped training and maneuvers have tested the achievements of the development and management of weaponry and equipment, demonstrating a notable improvement in the PLA's capabilities of equipment support, the white paper says.
"The PLA is working to retrofit its existing weaponry and equipment to upgrade its comprehensive performance in a systematic, organic and integrated way, so as to increase the cost-effectiveness of developing weaponry and equipment," the white paper says.
According to the white paper, the armed forces of China are mainly used in peacetime to respond to multiple security threats.
Their tasks are defined as safeguarding border, coastal and territorial air security, maintaining social stability, participating in national development and disaster relief, and participating in UN peacekeeping operations.
The People's Armed Police Force (PAPF) is China's backbone and shock force for handling public emergencies. Since 2009, the PAPF has handled 24 acts of serious violence and crime, including hostage taking, says the white paper.
Meanwhile, the PLA and the PAPF have engaged a total of 1.845 million troop deployments in disaster relief operations in the past two years.
They have rescued or evacuated a total of 1.742 million people, rush-transported 303,000 tons of goods, dredged 3,742 km of waterways, dug 4,443 wells, and fortified 728 km of dikes and dams, says the white paper.
As stipulated by China's Constitution and laws, an important task for the country's armed forces is to take part in national construction, emergency rescue, and disaster relief, the white paper says.
The PLA and PAPF have actively participated in and supported national construction work, of which a key component is the large-scale western development, the white paper says.
In the past two years, they have participated in construction of more than 600 major infrastructure projects relating to transportation, hydropower, telecommunications and energy, it says.
They have set up more than 3,500 contact points for rural poverty alleviation, and provided assistance to over 8,000 small public initiatives, such as water-saving irrigation projects, drinking water projects, road construction projects, and hydropower projects, it says.