WASHINGTON — The China-Russia joint aerial patrol that set a Russian military surveillance plane into South Korean and Japanese restricted air zone earlier this week is part of a rising planned military cooperation between the two countries, Chinese military officials said Thursday.
The exercise came as China released a comprehensive white paper to “expound on China’s defensive national defense policy and explain the practice, purposes, and significance of China’s efforts to build a fortified national defense and a strong military, with a view to helping the international community better understand China’s national defense.”
It is Beijing’s first defense paper since 2012. Its foundation expounds on China’s defensive national defense policy “to build a fortified national defense and a strong military, with a view to helping the international community better understand China’s national defense,” the paper says.
The paper also focuses on its version of Great Power Competition — pointing to the U.S. as the culprit in undermining global strategic stability and encouraging Taiwanese independence through “unilateral policies.”
“The world is not yet a tranquil place,” the document said. “ The international security system and order are undermined by growing hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism, and constant regional conflicts and wars.”
The Pentagon’s national defense strategy document identifies China and Russia as the chief threats against the United States.
Pentagon officials had no comment on the document when asked on Thursday.
The document, released Wednesday, said that before 2017, China’s military spending accounted for 1.28 percent of its GDP; that compares to 4.4 percent for Russia, 3.5 percent for the U.S., and 2.5 percent for India’s 2.5.
The report said the military’s greatest challenges come from pro-independence forces in Taiwan and separatists in Tibet and Xinjiang. It said the challenges in the South China Sea — where it has militarized concreted island in the hope of controlling the waters — was being handled satisfactorily.
“The situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and improving as regional countries are properly managing risks and differences,” the report said.
The Chinese military has been focusing on areas of technology such as hypersonic and studying U.S. and European tactics to catch up to the west in a military punch. Published reports have focused on Beijing’s building of a third aircraft carrier and developing space weapons, ice breakers, stealth fighters and ballistic missiles as some of the selected areas for advancement.
“China’s claims to possess a peaceful character and gestures towards transparency in this white paper are unlikely to prove reassuring to its neighbors,” said Elsa Kania, a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, said in a Tweet.
As for the Russian-Chinese military cooperation, Kania tweeted, “We should expect to see more and more joint China-Russia military cooperation going forward. This is just the start.”