China says committed to peace as carrier passes near Taiwan
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.
China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is anchored in the northern port in Qingdao.