Most Asian countries see China's military build-up not as a threat to regional security, though America and Japan have expressed concerns about it, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Singapore on Friday night.
Lee made the remarks while delivering a keynote address at the opening reception for the sixth Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asia security conference.
The three-day conference, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), attracted some 26 official government delegations led by defense ministers or senior officials from the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe.
Lee said that Washington and Tokyo are worried about China's military build-up, and seek more information on China's defense spending and intentions.
But most Asian countries see China's actions not as a threat to regional security, but as a specific response to the cross-straits situation, he added.
"Of course, China would eventually want its armed forces to be equal in technology and capabilities to other world powers. But for the time being it is content to develop deterrent capability that is asymmetrical," Lee said.
"China's strategic weight and rapid transformation continues to be felt all over the world," said Lee, adding that "It is opening up and becoming more integrated with the world."
He spoke highly of China's strategy to emphasize peaceful emergence and integration into the community of nations, saying " it has pursued broad-based cooperation with the rest of the world, improved relations with Japan, and participated constructively in the Six-Party Talks."
Within the region, he said, China is skillfully deploying its soft power, and cultivating its neighbors in a coordinated, strategic way.
"China participates actively in regional forums, provides technical assistance, and promotes trade and people-to-people linkages," he said, adding that "all Asian countries welcome these warm ties with China."
He said he believed that the strategic environment in Asia remains favorable and that relations between major powers continue to be constructive.
He also pointed out that America continues to play a vital role in Asia's stability and prosperity, while China, Japan and India also play leadership roles within the region.
On regional cooperation, he pointed out that "one challenge for Asia is to develop the right framework for regional cooperation, within which countries can deepen cooperation, discuss sensitive issues, and contain and manage friction so as to ensure a stable environment in Asia for the benefit of all."
Besides the existing forums and groupings in the region, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summit (EAS), Lee praised the Shangri-La Dialogue which gathers leaders and policy makers to address the security challenges facing the region as an important role in the process of deepening cooperation.
The annual dialogue has been held at Singapore's Shangri-La hotel since its inauguration in 2002, aiming to further strengthen mutual trust between the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.