Los Angeles 10/13/2010 3:52:39 PM
News / Politics

China Not A Threat To Its Neighboring Countries

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie told his counterparts at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) security forum in Vietnam that his country poses no military threat to its neighbors.

Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary, spoke calmly at the same forum on Tuesday, talking about aggressiveness and territorial disputes, but not criticizing China directly.

"The United States does not take sides on competing territorial claims, such as those in the South China Sea," Gates said. "Competing claims should be settled peacefully, without force or coercion, through collaborative diplomatic processes, and in keeping with customary international law."

China claims that the bulk of South China Sea is part of its territory, disputing the claims made by neighboring countries. The dispute over territorial islands and waters is the biggest headache facing the Asia-Pacific region

Guanglie said, "China pursues a defense policy that is defensive in nature," while adding, "China's defense development is not aimed to challenge or threaten anyone, but to ensure its security and promote international and regional peace and stability."

Liang's remarks came just weeks after a political row with Japan over the detention of a Chinese boat captain. He was taken into custody off the disputed waters surrounding Diaoyu Islands for allegedly ramming his vessel into Japanese coast guard vessels. Beijing responded with the suspension of high-level talks and cancellation of visits between the two countries.

Japan released the captain late last month, who received a hero's welcome when he arrived in China.