China expanding military buildup beyond scope of ‘defensive’ aims

The Yomiuri ShimbunChinese President Xi Jinping’s strategy to bolster his nation’s military strength, which is aimed at expanding China’s military influence over the East and South China seas and the Western Pacific, and eliminating the influence of the U.S. military, contributes only to undermining regional stability.

As U.S.-China confrontation has expanded from just trade to the realm of security, China has released a national defense white paper for the first time in four years. The document is characterized by the fact that it emphasizes the importance of confronting the United States and justifies China’s fast-paced military buildup.

In the document, China criticizes the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, saying it has significantly increased its defense expenditures and "undermined global strategic stability.” Thus China has expressed a sense of caution over U.S. moves to augment its alliance with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

China asserts that artificial islands in the South China Sea and Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are “inalienable parts of Chinese territory” and threatens use of force to achieve complete reunification of Taiwan, saying “we make no promise to renounce the use of force.”

Beijing claims that China’s national defense policy is designed for “defensive” purposes to safeguard its security and other interests and that it will “never seek hegemony.” But these assertions by China cannot be accepted at face value.

The Xi administration has set a goal of making the Chinese military “world-class” by the middle of this century. Xi should recognize that China itself has been heightening tensions in the region through military expansion and high-handed behavior.

The white paper mentions the deployment of new weaponry and equipment, including the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile with a firing range capable of reaching U.S. bases in Guam, domestically produced J-20 state-of-the art stealth fighters, and a 052D-type missile destroyer equipped with a high-performance radar system.

Security of sea-lanes vital

It is obvious that China is seeking to expand the range of its air and naval supremacy from the areas around it to those of the Western Pacific, thereby preventing access and advances by U.S. military forces.

The Chinese military on July 1 launched from its mainland six anti-ship ballistic missiles, which are believed to have been DF21Ds, into the South China Sea. This was likely intended to show off its offensive capabilities from mainland China and thus threaten the U.S. military, which has been engaged in freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Ensuring the security of sea-lanes is an interest common to Japan and other countries. Dangerous acts that would heighten tensions by impeding free traffic in the South Sea can never be accepted.

It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the white paper also emphasizes promoting security cooperation with Russia. The document says the two countries will promote joint military exercises and bolster cooperation in the development of military technologies. The first China-Russia joint training that was recently conducted over the area around the Takeshima islets in Shimane Prefecture, which South Korea illegally controls, can be considered to be part of that initiative.

China and Russia may conclude a new agreement on military cooperation, with a view to rattling the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan, for its part, must work toward augmenting its alliance with the United States and its deterrent power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2019)Speech


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