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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 11:26, December 31, 2006
National security hinges on strengthened internal, external harmony
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Chen Zhou, a noted researcher with the warfare theory and strategy research department of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, enunciates the white paper on China's national defense that was issued Friday in an exclusive interview with Zhang Tie, a veteran reporter from the People's Day, a leading newspaper in China. The detailed account of the interview reads as follows:

Q: The white paper on China's national defense is the fifth of its kind the Chinese government issued since 1998. Then, could you tell us what is the most salient feature for this year's white paper?

A: The new white paper focuses on new changes in international security situation, new, substantial contents in China's defense policy and new progress scored in the national defense and army building in past two years. Its most salient features are: First, it fully embodies the basis concept of China's national defense is to maintain peaceful development. It constitutes China's basic national policy to take the road for peaceful development, to build a harmonious society at home and to spur the construction of a harmonious world globally. So China has to implement its national policy of a defensive nature.

Second, it gives prominence to the guiding position of the scientific development outlook in the national defense policy in the new period of the 21st century. The scientific development outlook should be taken as a vital guiding principle for spurring the military reform with Chinese features and bringing about the all-round, coordinated and sustained development of the national defense and armed forces.

Third, it increases the transparency of China's defense policy and strategic intention. The purpose in increasing such transparency is to build up mutual confidence between nations. The new white paper enunciates in an open way many aspects with regard to the judgment of security environment, security strategic concepts as well as the country's defense policy and military strategy and effectively refuted the allegation about China's military threat.

Q: In terms of its concrete contents, what represent new changes or "bright spots" in the new white paper?

A: Four chapters are added to the new white paper, namely, "the national defense leading and managerial system", "the Chinese People's Liberation Army", "the people's armed police force" and "frontier and coastal defense", and an additional chapter on "the national defense expenditure" is offered with an explicit aim to further increase the transparency of the national defense and armed forces. On the exposition of China's national defense policy, the new white paper for the first time presents China's self-defense nuclear strategy and the military strategic principle in the new era. That is, it remains firmly committed to the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances; it adheres to the principle of limited development with striking back in self-defense; and developing a nuclear force to comply with the national security requirements and retaining the role of nuclear deterrence, etc.

The new white paper also releases for the first time China's goal for three-step development strategy in modernizing the national defense and armed forces: laying the groundwork before 2010, making relatively marked progress in 2020 and basically establishing an army with an information infrastructure in mid 21st century army capable of winning the war with the extensive, efficent use of information.

Q. The 2002 and 2004 white papers are devoted to a description of security situation both at home and abroad in their first chapter, and the white paper this year is again set aside for "security situation". What differences do the new white paper have with the previous white papers in term of its description and judgment of the security situation?

First of all, the white paper's judgment on the security situation in the world and the Asia-Pacific region fully reflects a new situation and new changes in recent two years. For instance, the new white paper enunciates basic views of the Chinese government on international security situation with three important judgments as the basis. That is to say, the opportunity outweighs the challenge concerning world peace and security, a security threat faced by international community has become increasingly synthetic, varied and complex, and the military rivalry with information-based characteristics has been aggravated.

Secondly, it analyzes security environment a comprehensive way. It underscores that the overall national security environment is favorable to China on one hand and, on the other hand, it acknowledges that the national security still faces challenges. The growing interconnections between domestic and international factors and interconnected traditional and non-traditional factors have made maintaining national security a more challenging task. The struggle to oppose and contain the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" and their activities remains a hard one.

Finally, the new white paper summarizes for the first time the national security strategic thinking with the unity of development and security. This strategic concept urges building a harmonious socialist society internally, and actively spurring the construction of a harmonious world externally, and seeking for comprehensive national security and lasting peace globally.

Q. In presenting the policy for China's national defense, people have noticed that the new white paper has such a provision on "creating security situation facilitating security development for the nation", whereas the corresponding clause of the white paper in 2002 reads as "safeguarding world peace and opposing aggression and expansion" and the relevant clause of the white paper in 2004 reads as "winning over for a lengthy, good international environment and adjacent environment." What is the penetrating, incisive connotation in the change of such presentation?

A. It is a crucial task for China's national defense to safeguard the world peace and oppose aggression and expansion. And it is also one of China's fundamental national interests to attain a good international environment and surrounding environment for a relatively-long period of time. Nevertheless, the international community is confronted with an increasing comprehensive, varied and complex security threats. Moreover, with new circumstances and new characteristics emerged in the national interest, it is essential to prioritize a security environment favorable for China's peaceful development, as the national defense has to obey and serve the national development strategy and security strategy. And China's national defense should also play an active role in safeguarding global and regional peace and stability.

Q. People have noticed an additional clause in the new white paper on "realizing the all-round, coordinated development of the national defense and army building." Will you please brief us on the science development outlook of national defense and army building in line with reality or actual circumstances.

A. Science development outlook is a guiding principle not only for action in constructing a relatively affluent society but for national defense and army building. The new white paper particularly established the guiding position of scientific development outlook in the national defense policy in the new era of the new century.

In carrying out and implementing the scientific development outlook, perseverant efforts should be made to effect the coordinated development of national defense construction and economic growth, so as to merge national defense and armed forces' modernization into the system of sco-economical development on one hand and, on the other hand, efforts should also be taken to step up and arrange in an all-round, scientific way the army building in various fields, in an effort to press ahead with innovation in military organization setup and increase efficiency in army modernization.

Q. The new white paper repeatedly underlines the national defense policy of a defensive nature and the implementation of the military strategic principle of "active defense", and then what are the intrinsic ties and generality between the "defensive" defense policy and the strategic principle of "active defense"?

A. Military strategy represents a general plan that guides the military construction and armed warfare, and so both are closely related to each other and therefore inseparable. The nature of China's defense policy is to defend the motherland and the peaceful labor of its people, as what the Chinese constitution specifies. In other words, China's national defense is, in essence, defensive in character. The defensive nature of China's national defense is manifested in its basic purpose to safeguard the security and unity of the nation, to ensure the materialization of the goal for a relatively affluent society instead of seeking an outwardly expansion or hegemony; the growth of China's national defense and military strength will absolutely not menace peace and security in the country's surrounding areas.

China keeps firmly to its strategic defense, self-defense and to striking only after the enemy or adversary has attacked, "we will not attack unless we are attacked; if we are attacked, we will certainly counterattack," as a puplar Chinese saying goes." But this kind of defense is not passive, since there are also attacks involved when people on the defensive.

Q. Could you elaborate your understanding of China's national defense policy of a defensive nature in the light of the national road for peaceful development?

A. In implementing China's defense policy of a defensive nature, due consideration should be given to a big backdrop of globalization, which has deepened the ties of interest forged among nations, Any nation has to mull over the interests of other nations as well as the common interests of all nations in the course of pursuing its own interests. And in this case, China is no exception.

China has never been related so closely to the world as it is today, and so is the harmonious society to the harmonious world. On one hand, China will be impacted by the international strategic environment to a greater extent and, on the other hand, it is expected to contribute still more positively to the defense of global peace and stability. The great revitalization of the Chinese nation can be materialized only when it is capable of integrating the fundamental interests of its people with that of the people worldwide. China shall never seek expansion or pursue hegemony either at present or in the future, no matter how it is developed by then.

By People's Daily Online

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