The strength of China’s armed forces is 20 years behind the U.S. and although the military is developing new capabilities, it is not a threat to peace in Asia, the Chinese defense minister said Sunday.
China‘s military won’t be used aggressively against its neighbors, General 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 met Friday with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Singapore amid increasing high-level contacts between the militaries of the two countries. Gates told Liang that he believes the military-to-military relationship is “on a positive trajectory” after a series of setbacks in recent years.
Liang is the highest-ranking Chinese military official to attend the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, now in its 10th year. General Chen Bingde, China’s chief of general staff, met with top U.S. military officials last month in Washington.
“China and the U.S. have made great progress in bilateral relations,” Liang said. “All of us are very optimistic about the future of bilateral and military-to-military relations.”
Liang sought to downplay recent increased Chinese military spending, insisting the nation’s capabilities remain far behind those of developed countries.
“Our defense force is more modern and developed. However, there still exists a big gap,” he said. “There’s a generational gap.”