China on Monday reassured the world it will never seek hegemony or “expansion” but vowed to modernise its armed forces, the world’s largest, without engaging in arms race or posing a military threat to others.
“China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,” Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said in his opening address at the 17th National Congress of the ruling party.
“This is a strategic choice the Chinese government and people have made in light of the development trend of the times and their own fundamental interests,” Hu, who is seeking a second consecutive term as the CPC boss, told 2,213 party delegates.
Hu, also Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the top defence organ of the country, said China follows a policy that is “defensive” in nature. “China does not engage in arms race or pose a military threat to any other country. We oppose all forms of hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion,” Hu assured the international community amid the “China threat” concerns raised by the unprecedented modernisation of the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Stressing China cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world, nor can the world enjoy prosperity and stability without China, Hu said: “China will never seek benefits for itself at the expense of other countries or shift its troubles onto others.”
The Chinese legislature approved in March the national defence budget for 2007 fiscal year, which reached $44.94 billion, up 17.8 per cent from 2006.
“We are determined to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and make contributions to maintaining world peace,” Hu pledged.
“Bearing in mind the overall strategic interests of national security and development, we must take both economic development and national defence into consideration and make our country prosperous and our armed forces powerful while building a moderately prosperous society in all respects,” the Chinese President said.
Hu said China will accelerate composite development of mechanisation and computerisation and carry out military training under IT-based conditions. It will intensify efforts to train a new type of high-calibre military personnel and change the mode of generating combat capabilities.
Hu also urged the international community to work together in building a harmonious world.
“We maintain that people of all countries should join hands and strive to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity,” he said.
To this end, Hu proposed that all countries uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, observe international law and universally recognised norms of international relations.