China contributing to its security troubles: experts

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Despite the fact that China's recent reactions to its "multiple and complicated security threats" have worsened regional tensions, it does not see itself as culpable, experts said.

China issued Tuesday  a white paper on national defense, which elaborates on its new security concept including the peacetime utilization of its armed forces.

According to Reuters, China is uneasy with what the United States has called the "rebalancing" of forces as Washington winds down the war in Afghanistan and renews its attention further east.

China says the policy has emboldened Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in longstanding territorial disputes with Beijing, Reuters said. 

China's Ministry of Defense said in its annual white paper that the country faces "multiple and complicated security threats," despite its growing influence, adding that current US strategy means "profound changes" for Asia.

"There are some countries which are strengthening their Asia Pacific military alliances, expanding their military presence in the region frequently making the situation there tenser," the newswire quoted the ministry's 40-page document as saying, adding that the alliances clearly referred to those with the US.

"On the issues concerning China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighboring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, such as Japan making trouble over the Diaoyu Islands," Reuters quoted the white paper as saying.

Ian Storey, a security analyst at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said that China probably perceives threats to its security, including those arising from the various territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas and recent shifts in US policy regionally.

"While China's behavior has contributed to rising tensions in the region, it does not see itself at fault, but rather that it is merely reacting to the actions of other countries," he told Thanh Nien News.

He said China's increasing defense spending is "perfectly natural and legitimate for a rising power," but that other countries are anxious about China's growing military capabilities.

"It's a classic security dilemma," he said.

China unveiled another double-digit rise in military expenditure last month, to 740.6 billion yuan ($119 billion) for 2013, and is involved in protracted and often ugly disputes over a series of islands in the East and South China Seas, Reuters said. 

A Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP Tuesday that Tokyo had protested to the Chinese embassy over the paper.

 

"China's peculiar argument about the issue is not acceptable," he was quoted by the newswire as saying.

The dispute with Japan over the uninhabited islands, which China calls the Diaoyu and Japan refers to as the Senkaku, has escalated in recent months with both countries sending fighter jets and ships to patrol the islands, Reuters said.

China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are also embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

China's claim is the largest, covering most of the sea's 1.7 million square kilometers.

The wasters are thought to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas that could potentially place China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other claimant nations alongside the likes of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Qatar.

Mark Valencia, a Hawaii-based expert on East Sea dispute, said China's white paper spells trouble.

"It would seem that the US and China are destined to compete for the strategic hearts and minds of Asia," he told Thanh Nien News.

But China's claim of "multiple and complicated security issues" was "an accurate" assessment, Valencia said.

"What they should be doing about it is the question for debate - are they doing too much (too aggressive), too little (for their domestic nationalist critics) or keeping a balance (little use of military, warships etc. - or outright military attacks)," he said.

"This is kind of a "˜goldilocks' dilemma for China - but [it] has obviously gone too far in the eyes of its competing claimants."

 

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