China says com­mit­ted to peace as car­rier passes near Tai­wan

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Christo­pher Bodeen

BEI­JING >> China said Wed­nes­day it was com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Asia, even as it sent an air­craft car­rier bat­tle group through the Tai­wan Strait amid height­ened ten­sions be­tween Bei­jing and the self-ruled is­land.

The state­ment in the preface to a Cabi­net re­port on China’s poli­cies on Asia-Pa­cific se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion fol­lows heated crit­i­cism from the U.S., Ja­pan and oth­ers over Bei­jing’s in­creas­ingly ro­bust as­ser­tions of its mar­itime claims, par­tic­u­larly in the South China Sea.

The re­port made no di­rect ref­er­ence to such con­cerns while cast­ing Bei­jing as a force for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and con­flict re­duc­tion.

“China is com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in this re­gion. It fol­lows the path of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment and the mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial strat­egy of open­ing up,” the re­port said.

“It has par­tic­i­pated in re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in an all­round way and taken ac­tive steps in re­sponse to both tra­di­tional and non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges, con­tribut­ing to last­ing peace and com­mon pros­per­ity in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion,” it said.

The re­port re­it­er­ated China’s claims over South China Sea is­lands and wa­ters, as well as ter­ri­to­ries in the East China Sea con­trolled by Ja­pan.

It also ex­pressed strong op­po­si­tion to the de­ploy­ment by the U.S. and South Korea of an ad­vanced mis­sile de­fense sys­tem to counter threats from North Korea, say­ing that would “se­ri­ously dam­age the re­gional strate­gic bal­ance and the strate­gic se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of China and other coun­tries in the re­gion.”

How­ever, the em­pha­sis was firmly on China’s con­tri­bu­tions to se­cu­rity and will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate with oth­ers on “im­prov­ing the re­gional se­cu­rity frame­work.”

“China has ac­tively pushed for peace­ful so­lu­tions to hotspot is­sues such as the nuclear is­sue on the Korean Penin­sula and the Afghanistan is­sue, and played its due role as a re­spon­si­ble ma­jor coun­try,” the re­port said.

De­spite such rhetoric, China’s rapid mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion has raised con­cerns about its in­ten­tions, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing Tai­wan, which it claims as its ter­ri­tory.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, Tai­wan’s De­fense Min­istry said it was keep­ing an eye on China’s sole air­craft car­rier, the Liaon­ing, and its bat­tle group as it passed through the 100 mile-wide strait sep­a­rat­ing Tai­wan from south­east­ern China.

A min­istry state­ment said the Liaon­ing was trav­el­ing north­west along the cen­ter line di­vid­ing the strait and urged the pub­lic not to be alarmed.

China and Tai­wan split amid civil war in 1949 and Bei­jing has never re­nounced its threat to use force if it con­sid­ers that nec­es­sary to pre­vent the is­land’s per­ma­nent in­de­pen­dence from the main­land.

WU DENGFENG — XINHUA VIA AP, FILE

China’s first air­craft car­rier, the Liaon­ing, is an­chored in the north­ern port in Qing­dao.

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