The German news magazine Der Spiegel has an interesting interview with Chen Zhou, a PRC naval officer who teaches at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing. In it, Chen discusses the rationale for Chinese efforts to narrow the military gap between the PRC and the United States.
Here's an excerpt:
SPIEGEL: Why does China spend so much money on its military?Chen Zhou: We understand very well that many countries are concerned when China grows not just in economic terms but also in military terms. But these fears are unfounded. We are not seeking a position of supremacy. We are in favor of peaceful development.SPIEGEL: Then why the pronounced military buildup?Chen: If we grow economically, we must also strengthen our military. We must protect our sovereignty, our unity and the country's security. Historically our military consisted primarily of land-based forces that were meant to protect our homeland. Since 1980, we have also been arming ourselves for other local conflicts and wars. Please do not forget the activities of the separatists in Taiwan ...
The complete interview is available here.