China will continue to pursue "active defense" policies but will never again allow any country to infringe upon its sovereignty, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.
Hua was responding to Japanese comments about China's first white paper on military strategy, which was released on Tuesday.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that after World War II, Japan had won high praise around the world as a peace-loving country.
He also said, "Whatever the situation, we have to avoid using force."
The remarks came as the Japanese government is making progress with changing the country's security policies that were put in place after the war.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that he will not use the words "apology" and "aggression" in his statement in August marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
Such key words have been used by his predecessors in a reference to Japan's wartime past. Hua said Chinese people's memories of their country being bullied by other powers are still fresh.
She said China cherishes peace and is adhering to a path of peaceful development, but will also keep "the lessons taught by history" in mind and build up appropriate defense capabilities.
The white paper refers to increasing security challenges posed by certain countries, citing the growing United States military presence in Asia and major adjustments to Japan's security policies.
It also states that "some offshore neighbors" have taken "provocative actions and reinforced their military presence on China's reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied". It says the PLA navy will gradually shift its focus from offshore waters defense to a combination of this type of defense and open seas protection.
It reaffirms China's adherence to peaceful development and its "active defense" military strategy. It interprets this policy as, "We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked". The white paper adds, "China will never seek hegemony or expansion."
Foreign Policy magazine said in an analysis of the white paper that China's assessment of its challenging security environment is "sobering ... for a 5,000-year-old civilization that has survived invasions from Mongols, Japanese and Western Europeans."
Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren said the white paper is a "step in the right direction" in terms of transparency and "exactly the type of thing that we've been calling for" in that respect.