China seeks to placate neighbours
Singapore: China on Sunday sought to ease neighbours’ fears
about its military ambitions and demanded respect from the international
community as smaller Asian nations accused it of behaving like a bully.
Defence Minister Liang Guanglie told a security forum in Singapore that
“only by advocating democracy in international relations and respecting
each other’s core interests and major concerns” could the region find
“lasting peace, harmony and stability”.
“China is committed to regional peace and stability through security
cooperation,” said Liang, the first Chinese defence minister to attend
an annual Singapore conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Respect and equality were the main themes of Liang’s address. In a
45-minute speech followed by a question-and-answer session, Liang warned
through an interpreter that countries “should not engage in any alliance
targeting a third party” but did not go into details. “Asia-Pacific is
the shared home for all people in this region. At present, the
unprecedented degree of interconnection, interdependence and integration
of interests among nations in this region helps open up a promising
prospect that peace, development and cooperation will bring forth.”
On the sidelines of the forum, Liang held talks with outgoing US
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday as part of efforts to improve
military relations between the two powers, a meeting both sides
described as positive.
Gates left Singapore for a farewell visit to Afghanistan before Liang
Addressing sensitive territorial disputes in the South China Sea,
Liang said China was committed to “peace and stability” in the
potentially resource-rich area and insisted the situation “remains