China will continue to fulfill its international duties and further strengthen its military relationships with other countries, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.
"China's growing effort in active and practical military diplomacy has become a unique way of fulfilling the national security strategy as well as supporting foreign and military strategies," ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a news conference in Beijing.
In recent years, the Chinese military has become more open and active in international affairs, such as peacekeeping and escort operations, as well as humanitarian aid, he said.
"These represent the responsibility and positive image of the military from a large country," Wu said.
China is participating in 10 United Nations-led peacekeeping missions, deploying more than 2,500 personnel more than the other four permanent members on the Security Council combined, according to UN statistics. China also is the second-largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, accounting for about 10.3 percent of the total peacekeeping budget in the past three years.
When asked about whether the Chinese military, especially the Navy, has been conducting more high-profile voyages and exercises to project power, Wu dismissed the notion.
"I need to emphasize that the Chinese military planes and ships, like those in all other countries, have the right to freedom of flight and navigation when traveling through nonterritorial waters," he said.
China and Russia kicked off their annual naval exercises, dubbed Joint Sea, on Saturday in the Baltic Sea. This is the first time the Chinese Navy is participating drills in Europe.
The exercise lasts until Friday and already has attracted worldwide attention, especially from among NATO countries. British, Dutch and Danish warships escorted the Chinese flotilla as it made its way to the Baltic Sea, according to foreign media reports.
Major General Ma Gang, a professor at PLA National Defense University, said the Chinese Navy needs to conduct sea drills in unfamiliar, distant waters to improve its capabilities and better fulfill its anti-piracy and rescue operations.
"In recent years, the Chinese military has been able to shoulder more international responsibility because its personnel and equipment have improved significantly compared with a decade ago," he said.
"As a big nation that cherishes peace and stability, China has a duty to promote peaceful development around the world. But this goal is unachievable with subpar tools, so our military needs to train and sharpen its skills."