10:26 GMT08 March 2021
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    China has been investing in its defense capabilities in response to the increasing instability in East Asia, Alexei Maslov of the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics told Sputnik, commenting on Beijing's recent activities in the South and East China Seas.

    Last week, Chinese Coast Guard ships and fishing boats sailed close to the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, much to Tokyo's discontent. Beijing also deployed several H-6 bombers and Su-30 fighter jets on a patrol mission to the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, a contested area in the South China Sea.

    In addition, China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquan recently said that the country must prepare for the "people's war at sea" to defend national security and territorial integrity from maritime threats.

    However, Maslov does not think that Beijing poses a threat to its neighbors regardless of what they claim. "I don't think that China will attack anyone. [Beijing] has never done anything like that in its military and political history," the analyst said.

    "True, China has increased its military spending. The country's armed forces total more than 5 million people, including reservists. But you have to understand that China is concerned with the destabilization that is taking place in East Asia," he explained.

    Maslov mentioned that relations with Japan, Vietnam and China's other neighbors have become more complicated in the last five years. North Korea has also been a source of major concern for Beijing and other nations.

    The analyst further said that Beijing has enhanced its military capabilities to increase its global status. "The military is important for China as a [necessary] attribute of a great power," he noted.

    In this context, the analyst added, China's investment in defense should be viewed in terms of its relations with the United States.

    "If the United States decides to intervene [in a local standoff], then a regional conflict will erupt. It is a very bad scenario. If on the other hand the US does not deploy its fleet and only threaten Beijing with sanctions, then there will be a prolonged conflict without a military component," he suggested.


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    military capabilities, defense spending, military spending, People's Liberation Army, Chang Wanquan, East China Sea, South China Sea, US, China
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