China released a new military White Paper today and while it says that countries are “increasingly bound together” and the “forces for world peace are on the rise”, it also has a strongly pointed warning to the rest of the world to back off.
The paper acknowledges “the world economic and strategic center of gravity is shifting ever more rapidly to the Asia-Pacific region”, but it does so with a warning to its neighbours.
Most pointedly it says, “Japan is sparing no effort to dodge the post-war mechanism, overhauling its military and security policies”.
That leaves little room for confusion about what the Chinese think and they add it has “caused grave concerns among other countries in the region.”
The paper also warns the US, which is carrying out a “rebalancing” strategy in the region as it enhances its military presence and alliances.
Recently tensions have been rising in the South China Sea with competing claims of sovereignty over islands and China’s recent dredging operations. It is here that China also gives a strong warning about “issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.”
The White Paper leaves no doubt about it stands on its South China Sea strategy, declaring:
On the issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some of its offshore neighbors take provocative actions and reinforce their military presence on China’s reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied.
Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China. It is thus a long-standing task for China to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.
Certain disputes over land territory are still smoldering. The Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia are shrouded in instability and uncertainty. Regional terrorism, separatism and extremism are rampant. All these have a negative impact on the security and stability along China’s periphery.
The Taiwanese President is today expected to propose a peace plan for the South China Sea. But he might need to look first to his own position given that China reiterated that “reunification is an inevitable trend in the course of national rejuvenation.”
The stakes are being raised, we have all been warned.