The Chinese government on Thursday said it viewed the security situation in the Asia-Pacific as “volatile”, pointing to the United States “reinforcing” regional military alliances and rising suspicions among China's neighbours.

In a national defence white paper issued on Thursday, China said it would seek to expand confidence-building measures with its neighbours, as well as stick to a defence policy that was defensive in nature.

The white paper, the seventh that China has issued since 1998, portrayed a strained regional security environment, describing the Asia-Pacific region, in particular, as “volatile.”

“Relevant major powers are increasing their strategic investment,” said the paper. “The United States is reinforcing its regional military alliances, and increasing its involvement in regional security affairs.”

The paper also said “pressure builds up in preserving China's territorial integrity and maritime rights and interests”, though without referring to specific territorial disputes.

It stressed that China would promote “the establishment of equal, mutually beneficial and effective mechanisms” for military confidence-building, through strategic dialogues, border area confidence-building measures, cooperation on regional and maritime security and military exchanges.

It said China had established defence and security dialogues with 22 countries. “China consistently pursues a foreign policy of building an amicable relationship and partnership with its neighbours,” said the paper.

The paper did not specifically mention defence exchanges with India, which are currently suspended, after China objected to the visit of the Northern Command's army chief because the “sensitive” region of Kashmir was under his jurisdiction.

This followed China issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens in Jammu and Kashmir, seen by Indian officials as China questioning Indian sovereignty in the region.

The paper highlighted the People's Liberation Army Navy's growing ties with foreign countries, such as the 2003 joint maritime search-and-rescue exercise with Pakistan, which it said was “the first ever between China and a foreign country”.

“During mutual port calls and other activities, the PLA Navy has run bilateral or multilateral joint maritime exercises with the navies of India, France, the U.K., Australia, Thailand, the U.S., Russia, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam,” it said.

The white paper also pointed to rising “non-traditional security concerns” from terrorism to energy and resources. “Suspicion about China, interference and countering moves against China from the outside are on the increase,” it said.

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