BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's Defense Ministry spokesman on Thursday stressed that the country's move to build itself into a maritime power has nothing to do with seeking hegemony.
China wants to become a maritime power in order to enhance its capacity to exploit marine resources, develop the marine economy, safeguard the country's maritime rights and interests, and ensure a sustainable economic and social development, Geng Yansheng told a regular press conference.
That does not mean that China is aiming at expanding its presence at sea, nor at marine hegemony, Geng said.
Chinese leader Hu Jintao's report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China earlier this month spelt out future efforts to build China into a maritime power.
The spokesman further denied interpretations that this position indicates a more hardline approach by China in its marine sovereignty claims, such as over the Diaoyu Islands.
"China's stance of safeguarding the country's legitimate sovereign rights and interests should not be regarded as a hardline approach," he said.
According to Geng, China will resolutely protect its sovereignty, security and development interests and will never yield to any outside pressure.
Safeguarding the country's marine rights and interests is one of the military's important duties and the army will well perform its duties under the country's deployment, Geng said.
Meanwhile, the spokesman noted, China is always committed to peaceful settlement of international disputes and opposes the wanton use of force or threat to use it.
China's armed forces advocate and follow the concept of a "harmonious ocean," and comply with the UN Charter as well as other international laws and rules, Geng said, adding that the Chinese military is active in taking part in international dialogue and cooperation in marine security and is willing to join other countries in maintaining security at sea.
Moreover, in response to media reports on naval training of the East China Sea Fleet in the West Pacific Ocean, the spokesman said it was a scheduled and routine session and was conducted in line with international rules.