Shangri-La Dialogue: Asia-Pacific not an area for 'strategic competition'

The Asia-Pacific region should be the world’s economic focal point but it should not become an arena for military or strategic contests, China’s Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo said at the Shangri-La Dialogue here yesterday.

Noting that the world economy is shifting to the Asia-pacific region, he said China does not want the region to turn into an area of “strategic competition”.

China does not seek “hegemony” now or in the future, Lt Gen Qi, the Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said. Beijing “stresses dialogue and consultation for peace” but that “by no means denotes unconditioned compromise,” he said.

Lt Gen Qi made these remarks in his key note address and in response to questions - there were 16 in all, far more than those raised for any other speaker, during the three-day forum.

He reiterated that Beijing considers it “legitimate” for the Chinese military and warships to patrol the areas that are “within its territory” in the East China and South China seas.

On China’s spat with the Philippines over the Huangyan islands and Manila’s bid to seek international arbitration, he said the two countries had an “open and smooth” channel for communications and matters should be resolved through this process.

Lt Gen Qi cautioned against overestimating the threat posed by North Korea and said resolving differences with Japan over disputed islands in the East China sea will take time.