China does not see its neighbours as enemies: NPC spokesman

Fu Ying, spokeman for the second session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), attends a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014. China does not view any of its neighbours or other countrie
Fu Ying, spokeman for the second session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC), attends a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014. China does not view any of its neighbours or other countries as enemies, but if a country provokes it and destabilises the region, Beijing must respond effectively to protect its territorial sovereignty and maintain regional stability, Ms Fu said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

China does not view any of its neighbours or other countries as enemies, but if a country provokes it and destabilises the region, Beijing must respond effectively to protect its territorial sovereignty and maintain regional stability, a spokesman for the national parliament said on Tuesday.

"As a big country, we bear a responsibility towards maintaining regional peace and safety.

"Despite the territorial disputes we have with some countries, we have always advocated peaceful means to resolve them. Those that cannot be resolved for now, we can shelf the disputes and pursue joint development," said Ms Fu, the spokesman for the National People's Congress (NPC) who is a former vice foreign minister.

"But if a country wants to provoke us and destroy this consensus and damage regional stability and order, China has to respond and do so effectively, one to protect our territorial claims and another to maintain regional order and peace."

Ms Fu was responding to a question on whether China's neighbours should worry about its expanding defence expenditure which is set to rise further this year, during a press conference on Tuesday ahead of the opening of the annual NPC session on Wednesday.

Besides Japan, China is also locked in territorial disputes with several Asean capitals and Taiwan in the South China Sea.

Ms Fu did not reveal China's defence spending for the new year, the second year running that she has bucked the trend of giving such figures by her predecessors.

esthert@sph.com.sg