China says US 'Great Wall' remark shows misunderstanding of history

Part of the Great Wall of China in Mutianyu, near Beijing, on April 23, 2016.
Part of the Great Wall of China in Mutianyu, near Beijing, on April 23, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China on Thursday (June 30) suggested the US defence secretary brush up on his history after urging Beijing not to build a "Great Wall of self-isolation", saying the Great Wall was build to keep out invaders not as a hindrance to contact.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter made the remarks at a security dialogue in Singapore this month, when the United States and Asia nations put pressure on China to rein in its actions in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Carter's comments had been noted.

"As for the Great Wall, those who have studied Chinese history all know that it was defensive," Wu told a regular monthly news briefing. "It was to keep out the cruel oppression of invaders, not friendly envoys or free trade."

Wu also brushed off the isolation remark, saying China's friends spanned the world and more and more countries supported its position on the South China Sea.

"Individual countries cannot represent the international community. If there are people who make false charges that'China is isolating itself' to actually try to isolate China, then that's simply flogging a dead horse."

Despite the tensions between China and the United States, especially over the South China Sea, China has sent ships to participate in a major US-hosted naval drill, the Rim of the Pacific exercise, or RIMPAC.

Wu said the Chinese flotilla had already arrived in Hawaii.

"We believe participation in the drill will help to steel and raise our navy's ability to deal with non-traditional security threats, and deepen China's professional exchanges and cooperation with relevant countries."