China adheres to the path of peaceful development and is "an important force in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region and the world," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing yesterday.
His statement was made in response to US Vice President Dick Cheney's recent criticism of China's alleged military build-up.
Cheney said last week during his visit to Sydney that "China's recent space test and continued fast-paced military build-up are less constructive and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise."
Rejecting Cheney's criticism, Qin said China's constructive role in the six-party talks to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear free is clear evidence of China's commitment to world peace.
He reiterated China's stance against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and stressed that the country has been promoting the peaceful use of outer space.
China has urged the international community to conclude a treaty banning space-based weapons, he noted, adding that China is willing to work with the US to deal with differences and promote the constructive relationship between the two countries.
Qin also rejected charges made by Japanese politician Shoichi Nakagawa on Monday against China's military spending.
Nakagawa, the policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, went so far as to say that China's "rising military spending" may affect Japan over time.
"If something were to happen to Taiwan in the next 15 years, then within 20 years, Japan might become just another Chinese province," Nakagawa was quoted as saying by the Sankei newspaper.
Qin said China is a big sovereign country with a long borderline and coastline, and thus its maintenance of a certain military force is "beyond reproach."
Japan's territory and population is only 4 and 10 percent of China's, but it has maintained a larger military budget, Qin said, adding that China's per capita military expenditure is only 7 percent of Japan's.
"People have to ask why Japan repeatedly claims the 'China threat' while it is spending huge sums of money on the military," Qin said. China is a peace-loving nation, and "will not threaten any other countries, nor be coerced by any other nations," he added.
While reiterating that the Taiwan question is China's internal affair, Qin hoped Japan would observe the three political documents to ensure the healthy development of a bilateral relationship.
North Korea issue
Qin said China hopes the US and North Korea will solve pending issues so they are able to work for a normalization of bilateral ties.
He confirmed Kim Kye-gwan, top North Korean negotiator to the six-party talks, arrived in Beijing earlier Tuesday for a stopover before leaving for the US, but denied any arrangements were made for a bilateral meeting between Kim and his Chinese counterpart.
Recent talks have resulted in a pledge to take the initial steps necessary to implement the agreement made in September 2005, and Qin said he hopes the future US-North Korea meetings will help move toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Qin noted that China hoped the US, together with other relevant parties, could appropriately resolve the financial sanction issue as soon as possible.
He said North Korea and the US are negotiating issues related to the establishment of their bilateral working group for relationship normalization, and so are the North Korean and Japanese sides on their bilateral group.
Relevant parties are also keeping close contact with each other on issues related to the establishment of the working group on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the working group of economy and energy cooperation, and the working group of Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.
Qin also said China is willing to meet with North Korea to discuss possible economic cooperation.
Commenting on a report that North Korea may set up an economic zone near its border with China, Qin said as a neighbor of North Korea, China hopes it can realize economic and social development.
The international society should provide beneficial assistance to North Korea, he added.
China has always adhered to two principles in developing its ties with North Korea, namely, safeguarding the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and serving the mutual interests of both nations, he noted.
The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany met in London on Monday to discuss further strategies toward convincing Iran to comply with demands to end its nuclear program.
When asked whether China will seek tougher measures against Iran, Qin said sanctions are not the purpose.
"Our position is consistent," he said. "We advocate a peaceful solution through diplomatic negotiation."
"Any move made by the Security Council should be to help resolve the issue through peaceful and appropriate means," he added.
According to Qin, Chinese Ambassador to Britain Zha Peixin attended the meeting and the six parties were still committed to seeking a negotiated solution.
The international community should take an active and constructive attitude to help promote Myanmar's peace process, and international efforts should be made with respect to Myanmar's sovereignty and national dignity, Qin said.
China has always held the view that Myanmar's internal affairs should be handled by the nation's government and people through independent consultation, he added.
He made the remarks in response to a question concerning State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan's recent visit to Myanmar.
Tang concluded his three-day working visit to Myanmar earlier Tuesday. During his stay in Myanmar, Tang met with Chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Senior-General Than Shwe in the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw and had talks with SPDC First Secretary Lieutenant-General Thein Sein over bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
The two sides expressed wishes to continue developing friendly and cooperative Sino-Myanmar ties.
Tang said that China sincerely hopes Myanmar will be politically stable, economically developed, and nationally harmonious, and its people will live and work in peace and contentment.
US deputy secretary of state to visit
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte will visit China from March 3 to 5, Qin announced.
The two sides will "exchange views on China-US relations and significant international and regional issues of common concern," he said.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2007)