China issues white paper on military modernisation

January 20th, 2009 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Jan 20 (Xinhua) China Tuesday issued a white paper on national defence, in which it committed itself to peaceful development and military modernisation. The paper for the first time unveiled China’s ambition to “basically accomplish mechanisation (of the military) and make major progress” in information technology by 2020 and “realising modernisation by the mid-21st century”.

The white paper “China’s National Defence in 2008″, issued by the information office of the State Council, is “updated, practical, consistent and systematic”, said Chinese defence ministry spokesman Hu Changming at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Vowing to strengthen the military by means of science and technology, the paper said China was working to “develop new and high-tech weaponry and equipment, conduct military training in conditions of information technology and build a modern logistics system in an all-round way”.

On China’s military guideline for strategic defence, the paper noted it “aimed at winning local wars” in conditions of information technology.

On the current effort to streamline the armed forces, the paper said China aimed at developing a complete set of “scientific modes” of organisation, institutions and ways of operation by 2020.

The paper for the first time specified in detail China’s long-standing policy of “no first use of nuclear weapons”.

“In peacetime, the nuclear missiles of the Second Artillery Force are not aimed at any country”, the paper said while reaffirming the country’s will to implement “a self-defence nuclear strategy”.

“But if China comes under a nuclear threat, the nuclear missile force of the Second Artillery Force will go into a state of alert, and get ready for a nuclear counter attack to deter the enemy from using nuclear weapons against China,” the paper said.

The Second Artillery Force is China’s name for its core force of strategic deterrence.

Under the direct command of the Central Military Commission, the nuclear-armed force aims to deter a nuclear strike from other countries and to conduct nuclear counter attacks and precision strikes with conventional missiles.

The paper, the sixth of its kind the Chinese government has issued since 1998, gave an overall picture of China’s national defence ranging from the security environment, national defence policy, to defence expenditure and arms control.

“The paper has become a window for the world to understand China and its military,” said Ci Guowei, deputy director of the foreign affairs office under China’s defence ministry.

In the new era, the Chinese military will take “a more open approach” to communicating and exchanging with other militaries in a bid for world peace and stability, Ci said.

Describing China’s general security situation as “improving steadily”, the 105-page document said: “The situation across the Taiwan Straits has taken a significantly positive turn.”

The paper attributed the improvement to the failed attempts of the separatist forces for “Taiwan independence” and the progress made in cross-Straits consultations.

The spokesman called for the two sides to step up contacts and exchanges on military issues “at an appropriate time” and talk about a military mechanism of mutual trust, in a bid to ease military concerns and stabilise cross-Straits relations.

“China is still confronted with long-term, complicated, and diverse security threats and challenges,” the paper said, listing the threats of separatist forces of “Taiwan independence”, “East Turkistan independence” and “Tibet independence”.

“In particular, the US continues to sell arms to Taiwan in violation of the principles established in the three Sino-US joint communiques, causing serious harm to the China-US relations as well as to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits,” it said.

With US president-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday, the spokesman called on the new US administration to take concrete measures to remove the obstacles in the way of military ties.

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