Just days after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry wrapped up his first official visit to Beijing, China’s defense ministry accused the U.S. of exacerbating tensions in the Asia-Pacific by increasing its military presence and reinforcing diplomatic ties in the region. From Reuters:
China says the policy has emboldened Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in longstanding territorial disputes with Beijing.
China faces “multiple and complicated security threats” despite its growing influence, the Ministry of Defense said in its annual white paper, adding that the U.S. strategy meant “profound changes” for Asia.
“There are some countries which are strengthening their Asia Pacific military alliances, expanding their military presence in the region and frequently make the situation there tenser,” the ministry said in the 40-page document, in a clear reference to the United States.
Such moves “do not accord with the developments of the times and are not conducive towards maintaining regional peace and stability”, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters.
The white paper also revealed the size and structure of China’s armed forces, the first time the People’s Liberation Army had ever made such a disclosure, according to Xinhua News:
China now has about 850,000 army servicemen in 18 combined corps and additional independent combined operational divisions (brigades), according to the paper.
The combined corps, composed of divisions and brigades, are respectively under seven military area commands.
Currently, the PLA Navy has a total strength of 235,000 officers and men, and commands three fleets — the Beihai Fleet, the Donghai Fleet and the Nanhai Fleet.
The PLA Air Force now has about 398,000 officers and men and an air command in each of the seven military area commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. In addition, it boasts one airborne corps.