This file photo taken in April 2018 shows a Chinese PLA navy fleet. （PHOTO / VCG）
BEIJING - Never seeking hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence remains the distinctive feature of China's national defense in the new era, said a spokesperson with China's Ministry of National Defense on Monday.
In recent years, China's military has engaged in cooperation with foreign counterparts and contributed greatly to world peace and stability
The spokesperson made the remarks when countering allegations that China is altering its national defense policy by continuously building up its military and taking a tougher stance when handling disputes with neighboring countries.
The spokesperson noted that China is developing its national defense and military with the sole aim of safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests. It does not target or pose a threat to any other country.
China strictly adheres to a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, which is determined by its socialist system, dedication to peaceful development, foreign policy and cultural traditions, said the spokesperson, adding that China has never started a war or occupied a single piece of foreign land since the founding of the New China.
In recent years, China's military has engaged in cooperation with foreign counterparts and contributed greatly to world peace and stability. History has and will continue to prove that the Chinese military is a staunch force in maintaining world peace, said the spokesperson.
South China Sea
China firmly opposes any country creating tension and increasing its military presence in the South China Sea under the pretext of "freedom of navigation," the defense ministry said.
The ministry made the remarks when asked to comment on the French Navy's recent dispatch of warships on a "freedom of navigation" mission in the South China Sea and the British Navy's upcoming operation in the region.
At present, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, and regional countries are working to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, said the ministry.
The ministry said China's will and determination to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea are rock solid, adding that China firmly opposes any country interfering in regional affairs under the pretext of "freedom of navigation" and damaging the common interests of regional countries.
The ministry called on relevant countries to make constructive contributions to peace and stability in the South China Sea, and refrain from making trouble and provoking tensions in the region.
Sino-US Military Ties
The defense ministry also expressed the hope for steadily advancing the relationship between the militaries of China and the United States.
The China-US relationship has reached an important juncture where cooperation would benefit both sides and confrontation would hurt both, the ministry said in response to media queries.
The military relationship between the two countries is an essential part of bilateral ties, the ministry said, adding that maintaining its stable and healthy development has become a prevailing trend as well as the responsibility of defense authorities of both sides.
The ministry said it hopes the US side would work with China to strengthen communication, expand pragmatic cooperation, and properly handle their differences in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
Also on Monday, the Information Office of the defense ministry said it is legitimate and indisputable for Chinese official vessels to carry out law enforcement activities in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands.
The remarks came in response to Japanese media's concern over activities by Chinese official vessels near the Diaoyu Islands.
The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are an inherent part of China's territory, which is solidly grounded in history and law, the office said, noting that Chinese official vessels have legitimate and indisputable rights to carry out law enforcement activities in China's territorial waters.
Such law enforcement activities will continue as regular moves, the office added.
As an important neighbor of China, Japan is expected to work with China to strengthen mutually-beneficial cooperation and deliver more benefits to both countries and peoples, and adhere to a guiding principle that the two countries are partners rather than threats to each other, the office said.
HONG KONG NEWS