Beijing, Dec. 9 (Reuters): China said today terrorism would haunt Asia for some time and vowed to back the US-driven campaign against the menace despite fears of “hegemonism” — Beijing’s codeword for Washington’s growing power.
China’s first defence policy paper in more than two years came as its military holds the first formal senior-level talks with the Pentagon since President George W. Bush took office.
The two sides were set for talks in Washington on how to fight terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
It also came less than a month after the ruling Communist Party reshuffled its top ranks but left retired chief Jiang Zemin in charge of the powerful Central Military Commission.
Still, today’s “white paper”, issued by the State Council, or Cabinet, was milder in tone than the last one in October 2000, which was marked by strident remarks on arch-rival Taiwan and directly criticised Washington.
While Taiwan still figured high in Beijing’s priorities in the latest document, the paper showed China’s military planners were increasingly occupied with “non-traditional” threats like terrorism and global crime.
Although the US was not directly mentioned, the document made it clear that China backed the global war on terrorism.
“The danger posed by terrorist, separatist and extremist forces to the region’s security cannot be rooted out in a short time,” the paper said.
“Terrorism, in particular, is posing a real threat to both global and regional security.”
China, it said, would be a “staunch force” for peace.
“The Chinese armed forces will strike hard at terrorist activities of any kind (and) crush infiltration and sabotaging activities by hostile forces,” the paper said.
It did not raise specific cases like Iraq, which the US suspects of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, or North Korea, which recently admitted it had a covert programme to make nuclear weapons.
Without directly criticising Washington, the paper indicated China’s military was still deeply worried about growing US might.