China's national defense has made huge strides over the years. However, compared to developed nations such as the United States, there's plenty of work left to do, says a senior Chinese military expert. "Military modernization is a broad concept which includes at least two aspects: equipment upgrade and doctrine," says Rear Admiral Yang Yi, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
"The most important factor of defense modernization is having the best minds, rather than the best equipment," Yang said in an interview with China Daily.
"It is the information age, we should adapt our military thinking to the new reality and adopt the ever-upgrading strategy.
"Despite the gap in equipment between China and some other countries, we are confident we could catch up by investing more human resources and capital into it. However, we would lose the whole game if our brain is equipped with obsolete military strategy or thinking."
As for war doctrine, Yang says that unlike the United States, China does not test its war theories through military strikes.
"China can only test and improve its war theory through military training or exchanges with foreign countries," Yang says.
China has actively taken part in military exchanges with foreign countries through joint military exercises, seminars and training.
Yang says that China has become more confident, open-minded and transparent in its military exchanges with foreign countries.
"Military staff in China are paid much less than those in developed countries, but it is a patriotic army with high morale," says Li Jianchang of the University of National Defense.
"Many foreign military officers are very interested in the 'secrets' of China's military," Li says. "An increasing number of foreign military officers attended training courses in our university to see how China's military is organized."
Yang says that China is a peace-loving country with a defensive military strategy.
The modernization of China's national defense would not only result in a peaceful environment in China but would also contribute to peace and stability in the world, Yang says.
China has become a major provider of collective security products like participating in peacekeeping missions, natural disaster rescue and humanitarian aid.
In response to speculation that China is building an aircraft carrier, Yang says: "Why can't China - a country with a 1,800-kilometer coastal line, more than 3 million square kilometers of ocean territory and more than 6,000 islands, build an aircraft carrier?"
"Whether to build an aircraft carrier depends on the needs of China's national defense," says Yong, without saying whether China is building one.
"Aircraft carrier is only a military platform which could be used for either offensive or defensive purposes," he says.
Aircraft carrier is one of the symbols of national defense modernization, but it doesn't mean a turning point in military strategy, Yang says.
(China Daily 08/01/2007 page21)