China on Tuesday issued a white paper on national defense elaborating on its new security challenges in peacetime and the employment of armed forces to cope with them.
The document, the eighth of its kind issued by the Chinese government since 1998, warns that the Asia-Pacific region has become an increasingly significant stage for world economic development and strategic interaction between major powers.
“The United States is adjusting its Asia-Pacific security strategy, and the regional landscape is undergoing profound changes,” the paper said.
The paper warns that China still faces multiple and complicated security threats and challenges.
The issues of subsistence and development security and traditional and non-traditional threats to security are interwoven, the document says.
“Therefore China has an arduous task to safeguard its national unification, territorial integrity and development interests,” it says.
MAIN SECURITY CONCERNS
The paper lists several major security concerns of China.
Some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation there tenser, the paper says.
On the issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighboring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, and Japan is making trouble over the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, it says.
The threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism, are on the rise while serious natural disasters, security accidents and public health incidents keep occurring.
“Factors affecting social harmony and stability are growing in number, and the security risks to China’s overseas interests are on the increase,” it says.
COMMITMENT TO PEACE
In face of such challenges, China reiterates its commitment to peaceful development.
China advocates a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security, the white paper says.
“China will never seek hegemony or behave in a hegemonic manner, nor will it engage in military expansion,” the white paper says.
According to the document, China will build a strong national defense and powerful armed forces which are “commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests.”
The basic duty of the armed forces is to fight wars and its peacetime mission is to prepare for wars, said Wu Xihua, a senior officer with the PLA General Staff Headquarters, at a press conference held here Tuesday morning, adding that no army can be exempted from this duty.
“Chinese armed forces focus on protecting the country’s sovereignty and security when it highlights capacity building under the principle of being able to fight a war and win a war,” Wu said. “This is a reasonable and normal move.”
But the country always sticks to peaceful settlement of international disputes and solving problems with neighboring countries through dialogue, he said.
The paper elaborates on the country’s diversified employment of the armed forces to cope with new security challenges at times of peace.
Besides implementing a defensive military strategy and winning local wars under the conditions of informationization, the armed forces are employed to effectively conduct military operations other than war and fulfill international obligations, according to the paper.
“China’s armed forces adapt themselves to the new changes of security threats, and emphasize the employment of armed forces in peacetime,” it says.
The employment of armed forces responds to China’s core security needs and aims to maintain peace, contain crises and win wars, according to the paper.
Chinese armed forces are employed to safeguard borders, coastal and territorial air security and they will strengthen combat-readiness and combat-oriented exercises and drills, it says.
And they will readily respond to and resolutely deter any provocative action which undermines China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
In this paper, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for the first time reveals the actual number of army, navy and air force servicemen, designations of its army combined corps and the main missile lineup.
China now has about 850,000 army servicemen in 18 combined corps and additional independent combined operational divisions (brigades), according to the paper.
The combined corps, composed of divisions and brigades, are respectively under seven military area commands.
Currently, the PLA Navy has a total strength of 235,000 officers and men, and commands three fleets — the Beihai Fleet, the Donghai Fleet and the Nanhai Fleet.
The PLA Air Force now has about 398,000 officers and men and an air command in each of the seven military area commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. In addition, it boasts one airborne corps.
The PLA Second Artillery Force, the country’s core force for strategic deterrence, is composed of nuclear and conventional missile forces and operational support units, according to the paper.
It is equipped with a series of “Dong Feng” ballistic missiles and “Chang Jian” cruise missiles.
It also has under its command missile bases, training bases, specialized support units, academies and research institutions.