Beijing, Dec. 30 (ANI): Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie on Wednesday said that his country is preparing for conflict 'in every direction'.
"In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction," The Telegraph quoted Guanglie, as saying in an interview published by several state-backed newspapers in China.
He added: "We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away."
The recent pace and scale of China's military modernisation has alarmed many of its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan which described China's military build-up as a "global concern" this month.
Liang's remarks come at a time of increasingly difficult relations between the Chinese and US armed forces which a three-day visit by his counterpart Robert Gates next month is intended to address.
A year ago China froze substantive military relations in protest at US arms sales to Taiwan and relations deteriorated further this summer when China objected to US plans to deploy one of its nuclear super carriers, the USS George Washington, into the Yellow Sea off the Korean peninsula.
China also announced this month that it was preparing to launch its own aircraft carrier next year in a signal that China is determined to punch its weight as a rising superpower.
A US Navy commander, Admiral Robert Willard, told Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper this week that he believes the Chinese anti-ship missile, the Dong Feng 21, has already achieved "initial operational capability", although it would require years of testing.
Analysts remain divided over whether China is initiating an Asian arms race.
Even allowing for undeclared spending, China's annual defence budget is still less than one-sixth of America's 663 billion dollars a year, or less than half the US figure when expressed as a percentage of GDP.
Liang has pledged that its armed forces would also increasingly use homegrown Chinese technology.
"The modernisation of the Chinese military cannot depend on others, and cannot be bought. In the next five years, our economy and society will develop faster, boosting comprehensive national power. We will take the opportunity and speed up modernisation of the military," he said. (ANI)