Thursday, April 23, 2009

Article - China won't seek hegemony

Chinese Navy ships moored at Sanya, in southern China's Hainan province. China's navy will move faster to build large combat warships, next-generation aircraft and sophisticated torpedoes in a modernizing overhaul for fighting in an era of information technology, its commander in chief said Thursday, April 16, 2009.

BEIJING - CHINESE President Hu Jintao has assured the world that his country will never seek hegemony and that its military will forever be a protector of peace.

Speaking on Thursday as China put on an unprecedented display of its warships and latest nuclear submarines, Mr Hu also pledged that his country would not spark an arms race.

He did not mention a possible first aircraft carrier for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, despite earlier speculation that he may make an announcement to celebrate the navy's 60th anniversary on Thursday.

'Both now and in the future, no matter to what extent we develop, China will never seek hegemony,' he told foreign navy commanders who gathered in Qingdao to mark the occasion.

The Chinese leader stressed that China wants to cooperate with other countries to ensure maritime safety.

'Strengthening exchanges between the navies of all countries and embarking on international maritime safety cooperation contributes substantially to the building of harmonious oceans and seas,' he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

The assurances from Mr Hu, who also heads the country's top military body, came as China showcased its ambition to become a world sea power.

Mr Hu, wearing white gloves, saluted the Chinese sailors as he reviewed an impressive fleet of 25 vessels and 31 aircraft aboard the destroyer Shijiazhuang. Two Chinese nuclear submarines made their first public appearance off the northern port city yesterday.

Accompanied by Chinese naval commander Wu Shengli, Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and other top military brass, Mr Hu also reviewed 21 vessels from 14 countries, including Singapore and the United States.

Related story: The Chinese Navy: How Big a Threat to the U.S.? (Time 21 April 2009)

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