Monday, October 16, 2000, updated at 22:22(GMT+8)

China's National Defense in 2000

The Information Office of the State Council published a white paper on China's policies on its national defense and international security issues on October 16.

The white paper, titled "China's National Defense in 2000," aims to "express the Chinese people's sincere aspirations for peace and to help the rest of the world better understand China's national defense policy and its efforts for the modernization of its national defense" at this important point in history - the turn of the century.

The white paper, in about 25,000 Chinese characters, comprises the forward and six parts with subtitles of "The Security Situation," "National Defense Policy," "National Defense Construction," "Armed Forces Building," "International Security Cooperation" and "Arms Control and Disarmament." The following is a summary of the white paper:

"When we look back on the twentieth century we notice that mankind created enormous material and spiritual wealth never seen before. We also experienced two world wars, hundreds of local wars and the Cold War that lasted for nearly half a century, suffering tremendously from the scourge of wars or the menace of wars. The Chinese nation has gone through many hardships. The Chinese people have fought bravely for their national independence, liberation, democracy and freedom. They have finally brought the country onto the road toward modernization," the white paper says.

"The Chinese people know full well the value of peace," it stresses.

The white paper says that Peace and development remain the two major themes in today's world. The trend toward multi-polarity and economic globalization is gaining momentum, and the international security situation, in general, continues to tend toward relaxation. Worldwide, the forces for peace are prevailing over the forces for war. A new world war will not break out for a fairly long time to come, it concludes.

"However, in today's world, factors that may cause instability and uncertainty have markedly increased. No fundamental change has been made in the old, unfair and irrational international political and economic order. Hegemonism and power politics still exist and are developing further in the international political, economic and security spheres," the white paper says.

"The world is undergoing profound changes which require the discard of the Cold War mentality and the development of a new security concept and a new international political, economic and security order responsive to the needs of our times. The core of the new security concept should be mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation. The U.N. Charter, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other universally recognized principles governing international relations should serve as the political basis for safeguarding peace while mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity its economic guarantee. To conduct dialogue, consultation and negotiation on an equal footing is the right way to solve disputes and safeguard peace. Only by developing a new security concept and establishing a fair and reasonable new international order can world peace and security be fundamentally guaranteed," the white paper says.

The white paper stresses that China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.

China has always attached great importance to safeguarding state sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security, and has been working hard for a peaceful international and a favorable peripheral environment for China's socialist modernization drive, it says, stressing that the development and powerfulness of China will constitute no threat to anyone, but will rather promote the world peace, stability and development. Never to seek hegemony is the Chinese people's solemn pledge to the world. According to the white paper, China's defense policy has the following main aspects:

- Consolidating national defense, resisting aggression, curbing armed subversion, and defending state sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security.

- Building and consolidating national defense independently and through self-reliance.

- Implementing the military strategy of active defense.

- Building a lean and strong military force the Chinese way.

- Combining the armed forces with the people and practicing self-defense by the whole people.

- Subordinating national defense to, and placing it in the service of, the nation's overall economic construction, and achieving their coordinated development.

- Safeguarding world peace, and opposing aggression and expansion.

Regarding the issue of nuclear weapons, the white paper reiterates the consistent position of the Chinese government: "China possesses a small number of nuclear weapons entirely for self-defense. China undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. China does not participate in any nuclear arms race, and never deploys any nuclear weapons beyond its borders."

China maintains a small but effective nuclear counterattacking force in order to deter possible nuclear attacks by other countries, it says.

The white paper says that China's nuclear force is under the direct command of the Central Military Commission (CMC). China is extremely cautious and responsible in the management of its nuclear weapons, and has established strict rules and regulations and taken effective measures to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear weapons.

On the issue of Taiwan, the white paper says that the Chinese government has consistently adhered to the one-China principle and will never give in or compromise on the fundamental issues concerning state sovereignty and territorial integrity. It reiterates, "If a grave turn of events occurs leading to the separation of Taiwan from China in any name, or if Taiwan is invaded and occupied by foreign countries, or if the Taiwan authorities refuse, sine die, the peaceful settlement of cross-Straits reunification through negotiations, then the Chinese government will have no choice but to adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force, to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and achieve the great cause of reunification."

The white paper gives an account of the structure of the Chinese armed forces, military educational and research institutions, the composition and duties of the active and reserve components of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese People's Armed Police and the militia, and the issues of mobilization and education on national defense.

The white paper also deals with the issue of defense expenditure, saying that China's defense expenditure falls into the following categories: personnel expenses, costs for maintenance of activities, and costs for equipment. China's defense expenditure covers not only the active forces, but also the militia and reserve forces. Support for some retired officers, the education of the children of military personnel, and other social spending are also provided in the defense expenditure.

China's annual defense expenditures in 1998 and 1999 were RMB 93.47 billion yuan and 107.67 billion yuan, respectively, and that for 2000 is RMB 121.29 billion yuan

The white paper points out that overall, China's defense expenditure has remained at a fairly low level, in comparison with many other countries. In terms of U.S. dollars, China's annual defense expenditure in 2000 is US$ 14.60 billion, which is only 5% of the USA's defense spending, 30% of Japan's, 40% of UK's, 48% of France's, and 64% of Germany's.

On the issue of science, technology and industry for national defense, the white paper says that China's fundamental aim in developing science, technology and industry for national defense is to satisfy the basic needs of national defense, guarantee the production and supply of military equipment, and raise the level of national defense modernization.

The white paper attaches great importance to the issue of frontier defense. It says that the Chinese government pursues a policy of good neighborliness and friendship. It defends and administers its land borders and territorial seas, safeguards the country's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and secures both its land and sea borders, strictly in accordance with treaties and agreements it has signed with its neighboring countries, and the United Nations maritime conventions.

It stresses that China advocates settling pending and unresolved border and maritime demarcation issues through negotiations, attaches importance to the setting up of a mutual confidence-building mechanism in border regions, and opposes the use of force or provocative acts. China has solved or basically solved boundary issues left over by history with most of its adjacent countries.

The white papers says that the Chinese government places the utmost importance on the formulation of laws concerning frontier defense. Border control departments conduct publicity and education activities aimed at enlightening the people of the frontier areas as to the nature of the boundaries, the concept of frontier defense, and border policies and laws, it says, adding that they also wage special battles to crack down on smuggling and narcotics, and hit hard at transnational, trans-border criminal activities in accordance with the law.

On the issue of the Macao Garrison, the white paper stresses that the stationing of a PLA garrison in Macao to fulfill defense duties is an important symbol of China's resumption of its sovereignty over Macao and it is also an important guarantee for safeguarding national sovereignty and security, as well as the long-term peace and stability of Macao.

On the issue of an additional reduction of 500,000 military personnel which was announced in 1997, the white paper says that by the end of 1999, this reduction had been achieved. The PLA was reduced to less than 2.5 million by downsizing the army. Of all the services, the Land Army was cut by 18.6%; the Navy, 11.4%; the Air Force, 12.6%; and the Second Artillery Force, 2.9%.

On the issue of international security cooperation, the white paper says that China handles its military relations independently, and conducts military exchanges and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

China supports regional security dialogue and cooperation at different levels, through various channels, in different forms and in a step-by-step manner pursuant to the principles of participation on an equal footing and reaching consensus through consultation in the spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences, it says.

Regarding China's participation in U.N. peace-keeping operations, the white paper says that according to the U.N. Charter, the U.N. Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of world peace and security.

As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China has been committed to the maintenance of international peace and security and "attaches great importance to the United Nations and supports it in playing its due role in maintaining international peace and security under the guidance of the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter."

According to the white paper, so far China has sent 522 military observers, liaison officers or advisers and 800 men in two batches from engineering units to the U.N. peace-keeping operations. Meanwhile, four Chinese have laid down their lives, and dozens have been wounded in U.N. peace-keeping operations in order to support the United Nations in fulfilling the mission entrusted to it by the U.N. Charter, it says.

The white paper reiterates the positions of the Chinese government on the issues of arms control and disarmament, nuclear weapons and missile, and biological and chemical weapons and criticizes that recent years have witnessed a series of negative developments in the area of international arms control and disarmament, which have undermined the sound momentum international disarmament efforts had gathered following the end of the Cold War.

The Chinese government resolutely opposes the attempts of some countries to use arms control and disarmament as a tool to weaken other countries and reinforce their own military superiority for the purpose of seeking regional or global hegemony, it stresses.

The white paper further stresses that China is strongly opposed to an arms race in outer space. China maintains that the exploration and utilization of outer space should be for the sole purpose of promoting the economic, scientific and cultural development of all countries, and benefiting all mankind, it says.

Such activities as the testing, deployment or use of weapons, weapon systems or their components should be banned in outer space, in order to prevent the militarization of and an arms race in outer space, the white paper says.

It says that China believes that the most direct and effective way to achieve this purpose in the new century is to negotiate and bring into being a new international legal instrument, in addition to continued strict compliance with the existing ones.