China's defense ministry confirmed Thursday that it has updated weaponry of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force for national defense purposes and that it does not target any third country.
"The Rocket Force is the core of China's strategic deterrence, the pillar to support China as a great power and the cornerstone to safeguard national security. It is normal and necessary for the Rocket Force to develop and update its weaponry. And this is a normal practice of other countries to modernize their militaries," Ministry of National Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang told a press conference on Thursday.
Ren's remarks came in response to media reports on the strategic missiles owned by the Rocket Force. One report said that it was noticeable that the missiles were developed to be vehicle-mounted and launched by electromechanical equipment and that previously they were "hidden in mountainous areas" with low mobility.
A PLA Rocket Force brigade conducted a drill in an effort to enhance the mobility of the force and soldiers' ability to accurately operate weaponry, the PLA Daily reported on Monday.
The PLA Daily report also noted that the informatization of nuclear weapons of the Rocket Force has increased and the organization of military units has improved.
More efforts are needed in managing and using the weaponry, it said.
"The survival ability and mobility of the strategic missiles of the Rocket Force are enhanced. And these improvements are in accordance with China's policies on nuclear weapons," a Beijing-based military expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.
The expert said that when China first gained nuclear capabilities in 1964, it was the first nation to propose and agree to the No-First-Use treaty, pledging no first use "at any time or under any circumstances."
"China has adopted a defensive policy on developing nuclear weapons. And it is keeping its nuclear deterrence to avoid possible nuclear wars," the expert said.
The Rocket Force had focused on strengthening its strategic deterrence and combat capability by modernizing weaponry that aims to safeguard national security and does not target any third country, Ren said.
"We stick with the peaceful development path and pursue a defensive national defense policy. We hope all parties could adopt an objective attitude toward China's defense construction," Ren said.