Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng’s Speech at the 6th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Lieutenant-General Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), delivered a speech at the second plenary session of the 6th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue. Following is the English transcript of his speech:

… China is different from the rising powers in the history as it has chosen the path of peaceful development. The soul of this policy is that China strives for a peaceful international environment to develop and, at the same time, develops itself to better contribute to world peace. Peaceful development is not a makeshift, but a serious choice and pledge of the Chinese Government and people.

China, all along, adheres to a defence policy which is defensive in nature. The fundamentals of the policy are: to maintain sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensure the nation prosper in a peaceful environment; to perform homeland defence and resist a foreign invasion; to moderately enhance defence capabilities to deal with the multiple security threats, and cope with crisis, maintain peace, deter and, if necessary, win the war.

The Chinese defence policy is characterised as the following: first, it is for self-defence. Strategically we adhere to defence, self-defence and would win by striking only after the enemy has struck. China shall never fire the first shot. Such an approach is consistent with the ancient Chinese thought to use caution before getting into a war – use force only for a just cause, put people first, and cherish life.

Second, it aims for independent defence. We would secure the country with our own capabilities, without joining any form of military alliance with any countries. We independently develop national defence industries, and the defence science and technology sector. We independently handle military-to-military affairs while balancing national interests, regional interests and global interests.

Third, it is aimed to achieve limited military power. We always put national sovereignty and territory integrity first, but not seek absolute military dominance. We are committed to developing a smaller but highly capably military force in a unique Chinese way and to promote all-round balanced and sustainable defence and military development. We continue to embrace the longstanding nuclear policy of no first use, will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear weapon-free countries and zones.

Fourth, it is a peace policy. We make regional and world peace one of the objectives of the Chinese defence policy, and handle the military-to-military relations in light of the principles of mutual respect, equal consultation, mutual benefit, reciprocity, cooperation and win-win. We would seek common ground while shelving differences and promote harmony and amity with all countries. We are committed to developing non-alignment, non-confrontational mutual cooperation, which does not direct against a third party.

The development of China is impossible without a prosperous and stable Asia Pacific region, and Asia Pacific prosperity and stability need a developing China. China wants to build good neighbourly relations and partnerships with its neighbours, maintain peace and security, facilitate dialogue and cooperation, and advocate harmony and common prosperity; thus, contributing to the security and stability in Asia Pacific. [Full Text]

The Q&A is available here. Click below to watch the video of the second plenary session – India and China: Building International Stability on this page:


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