China’s military buildup poses no threat to the world, Defence Minister Liang Guanglie said on Tuesday, in an effort to allay fears among Asian neighbours amid long-running maritime disputes.
The United States, Japan and many other Southeast Asian states have frequently expressed worries about China’s double-digit defence spending increases and expanding naval reach, saying Beijing’s plans lack transparency.
“There is absolutely no need for that,” Liang told Reuters, when asked about neighbours’ concerns.
There is no need to worry until China puts a gun to your head, then you need to worry. Do you want to sit around and wait until that day comes?
The Bully of the South China Sea – WSJ.com | 1913 Intel
To Beijing’s mind, being able to make outlandish territorial claims and violate international law at will is the prerogative of a great power. That was certainly the message Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi delivered at the Asean Regional Forum in Hanoi in July 2010. He described the South China Sea as a “core national interest,” and he followed that up by saying, “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that is just a fact.”
So it’s no wonder that Southeast Asian nations that 40 years ago looked to the U.S. to halt the spread of communism are now asking Washington to help push back against Chinese encroachment. The wonder is that Beijing seems surprised that it is again isolated in the region and surrounded by U.S. allies. But as China’s power grows, some of China’s neighbors realize that the window of opportunity for a unified response that will change Beijing’s behavior is closing.