The Latest: China refutes report of Cambodia naval base

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BEIJING – The Latest on China’s national defense white paper released Wednesday (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

China says reports of it setting up a military outpost in Cambodia’s port city are not true.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that China and Cambodia signed a secret pact allowing Beijing exclusive use of a naval base in Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Thailand.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Wednesday that the Chinese and Cambodian militaries have “always carried out good exchanges and cooperation in military training.”

He adds, “Such cooperation does not target third parties.”

Speaking to the pro-government website Fresh News, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called the report “the worst distorted news” and said Cambodia has never discussed setting up a base with China.

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2:20 p.m.

China’s Defense Ministry has pointed to an article in Hong Kong law that allows Chinese army troops to step in during certain public security crises.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian made the comments at a briefing Wednesday when asked how the Defense Ministry will respond to rising “independence forces” in Hong Kong.

Wu said the “behavior of some radical demonstrators … is absolutely intolerable” and pointed to Article 14 of Hong Kong’s Garrison Law without elaborating.

The article stipulates that the Hong Kong government may ask for assistance from Chinese military troops stationed in the city “in the maintenance of public order.”

Hong Kong residents have taken to the streets in droves over the last month to protest a controversial extradition bill and call for democratic reforms.

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12:20 p.m.

China says its first joint air patrol with Russia was not aimed at third parties, after South Korea complained the warplanes violated its airspace.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian says the Chinese and Russian air forces conducted a patrol Tuesday over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea without entering other countries’ airspace.

Wu says China dispatched two H- 6K bombers in a mixed formation with two Russian Tu-95s to “deepen and develop” the two countries’ strategic partnership.

A South Korean official said Tuesday that Chinese warplanes entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone off its southwest coast before its joint flight with the Russian planes. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots at a Russian aircraft, and Seoul filed official protests with Beijing and Moscow.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted Tuesday that the air defense identification zone is not territorial airspace and others are entitled to fly through it.

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11:15 a.m.

China says U.S., Japanese and Australian moves to beef up their military presence and alliances in the Asia-Pacific are bringing uncertainties to the region.

The national defense white paper released Wednesday said the U.S. deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea has severely undermined the regional strategic balance.

The report also noted Japan’s reinterpretation of its post-World War II constitution to allow its military to operate farther from its shores. It said Australia is seeking a bigger role in regional security by strengthening its alliance with the U.S. and its military engagement.

China’s military expansion in recent years has prompted concerns among other Pacific countries in a region long dominated by the U.S. Navy. 

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11 a.m.

China says it will not “renounce the use of force” in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vows to take all necessary military measures to defeat “separatists.”

In a national defense white paper released Wednesday, China emphasized its resolve to combat what it considers separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the threat of Taiwan separatism is growing and warned that those who are seeking Taiwan independence will meet a dead end.

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