China's top uniformed officer vows to defend core interests at naval symposium

The Chinese military's top uniformed officer has stressed that the country will never tolerate challenges to its core interests.

Zhang Youxia, vice chair of the Central Military Commission, spoke at the opening ceremony of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium held on Monday in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

Zhang said Chinese people respect peace and have no intention of going into war with any country, but added that China's territorial sovereignty cannot be violated.

He apparently was referring to the situations in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Zhang is believed to have sent a tacit warning to the United States and other nations that provide military support to the Philippines and Taiwan, with which Beijing has been at odds.

The symposium is held every two years to build mutual trust among naval and maritime officers in the Pacific region.

Delegates from 29 countries attended the ceremony, including the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Stephen Koehler, and the Russian Navy's commander-in-chief, Admiral Alexander Moiseyev.

The Philippines did not send a delegation as Manila and Beijing have been in a state of confrontation over territorial issues in the South China Sea.

The event is held behind closed doors. The 29 countries and the Netherlands, which is participating in an observer status, are expected to discuss rules on accidental clashes on the sea. Bilateral meetings are also likely to be held on the sidelines.