China gives reassurances on military intentions

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China gives reassurances on military intentions

The strength of China’s armed forces is 20 years behind the United States, and although the military is developing new capabilities, it is not a threat to peace in Asia, the Chinese defense minister said yesterday.

China’s military won’t be used aggressively against its neighbors, Gen. Liang Guanglie said at an Asian security conference in Singapore.

“I know many people tend to believe that with the growth of China’s economy, China will become a military threat,’’ Liang said. “China will never seek hegemony or military expansion.’’

“This is a solemn pledge made by the Chinese government to the international community,’’ he said.

Liang is the highest-ranking Chinese military official to attend the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, now in its 10th year.

China is working privately with North Korean officials to try to revive stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks that involve the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the U.S., Liang also said.

“The work we have done with North Korea is much more than what the outside world may expect,’’ he said. “We are trying to persuade them not to take risks.’’

Tensions between the two Koreas have jumped since two deadly attacks blamed on North Korea last year. The North has denied involvement in the sinking of a warship in March 2010 that killed 46 South Korean sailors and argued that a November artillery barrage of an island that killed four people was due to South Korean drills.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Saturday that any future attacks by North Korea would be met by a very strong response, and that Pyongyang is becoming increasingly bold in its provocations. “The situation is moving toward relaxation, but the foundation remains fragile,’’ Liang said.

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