Lieutenant General He Lei Photo: Xinhua
China explained its defense policy by releasing a white paper, China's National Defense in the New Era, on July 24, before August 1 that marks the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The white paper is significant as it has contributed to improving the international society's understanding of China's defense policy and repudiates the so-called China threat theory.
China has adhered to a defense policy that is defensive in nature since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests is the fundamental goal of its defense policy during the times. The policy aims not to seek hegemony, expansion or a sphere of influence.
The development of China's defense capability is based on the legitimate needs of national security. China does not follow Western countries that seek hegemony after having built up a strong military. Instead, Beijing insists on peaceful development coordinating defense and economic development. Howsoever strong the PLA becomes, China will never be a threat to other countries.
China's basic military strategy lies in active defense, insisting on defense and a principle that "we will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked." It places emphasis on both containing and winning wars, and underscores the unity of strategic defense and offense at operational and tactical levels.
It is a strategic mission of China's socialist modernization to build a consolidated national defense and a strong military that are commensurate with the nation's international status and conform to national security and development.
Moreover, China's defense policy contributes to building a community of shared future for mankind.
The concept advocated by President Xi Jinping has been accepted and recognized by the international society, which endows an international significance to China's national defense building and raises requirements with distinctive features of the times for the development and use of China's armed forces.
The defensive military policy is an inevitable choice based on China's history, reality, internal affairs, diplomacy, and purpose of defense.
As a socialist country, China is fundamentally different from nations given to imperialist and hegemonic designs in terms of foreign and defense polices. The path to peaceful development is a strategic choice for China. The country's modernization needs a safe and stable environment.
About 110 years before 1949, China was invaded by Western countries, which led to a reflection of what defense policy it should adopt. The Chinese people cherish hard-won peace and are looking forward to a prosperous and stable life, thus China won't make other countries suffer what it had undergone and won't allow any nation to invade and browbeat its people.
China's defensive military policy is not only enshrined in laws but also practiced. China has never actively provoked wars or armed conflicts. China's armed forces have grown stronger, but the country has never occupied territory belonging to other countries. The handful of military conflicts between China and neighboring countries were defensive counterattacks when peaceful measures couldn't save it from damage to its sovereignty, interests and people's safety.
As the country with most neighboring countries, China adheres to solving territorial and maritime disputes through talks, having settled border issues with 12 of its 14 land neighbors and reached consensuses with related countries on the maritime border row.
In the meantime, China actively fulfills its responsibilities and obligations in safeguarding world peace and development, to which the country has linked its own security. PLA actively promotes international military cooperation in the new era and strives for contributing to building a world with prolonged peace and universal security. As of December 2018, China has sent about 40,000 soldiers to participate in 24 UN peacekeeping operations, in which 13 Chinese soldiers lost their lives.
Peace and development are still the theme of the times with people pursuing prosperity, safety and stability. China's defense policy will follow the trend. Based on China's own national and military conditions, the country will adhere to fortified national defense and build a world-class military, contributing to establishing a community of shared future for mankind.
The author is chief expert and research fellow at People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science in Beijing.