China Warns Against Countries Expanding Military in Asia

China cautioned against countries expanding their Asia-Pacific military presence in a veiled warning to the U.S. as the Obama administration carries out a foreign policy shift toward the region.

Asia has become a significant stage for interaction between the world’s major powers, according to a defense white paper released today. Without specifying what countries it is referring to, the report notes in the same section that the U.S. is “adjusting its Asia-Pacific security strategy.”

The paper stressed the army’s duty to protect national sovereignty at a time when China is embroiled in territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. The U.S. has strengthened military ties with all three of those counties and called on China to abide by a legally binding maritime code of conduct.

Efforts to enhance military deployment and strengthen alliances in the region are not conducive to upholding peace and stability, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a press briefing in Beijing.

“We hope that the relevant parties would do more to enhance the mutual trust between the countries in the region and contribute to peace and stability in this region,” he said.

The report accuses the Japanese government of “making trouble” over disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

Japan Protest

Yang said the country’s armed forces have the ability and determination to protect the islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Planes and ships from both sides have shadowed each other for months around the islands, which lie in Japanese-administered waters rich in fish, oil and natural gas.

Japan protested to the Chinese government over the report, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said, adding that China’s assertions were “unacceptable.”

Three Chinese marine surveillance ships today entered the disputed waters and told Japanese ships in the area to leave, according to a State Oceanic Administration statement posted on the central government’s website.

China’s defense spending is set to rise 10.7 percent this year, and the report said the country aims to build a armed force that is commensurate with its international standing. China’s military budget, second only to the U.S., has increased 175 percent since 2003, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said yesterday in a report.

— With assistance by Henry Sanderson

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