Chinese defence officials underlined Beijing’s opposition to sanctions over the war in Ukraine and the North Korean nuclear crisis at an international security forum in Singapore on Sunday. “We do believe that pressure or sanctions would only provoke more problems and even exacerbate tensions to further complicate the issues,” Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said in his keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue. Wei, a former officer with the Chinese military’s rocket force, also stressed that China’s nuclear weapons were purely defensive. “Let me be frank, China’s policy on nuclear power is consistent. We develop the arms for self-defence, for the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons,” he said, adding China was committed to “not to be the first to use nuclear weapons”. “The ultimate goal of China’s nuclear strategy is to prevent a war.” Wei’s speech comes a week after North Korea fired eight short-range ballistic missiles , a record for a single day under the Kim Jong-un leadership. The United Nations Security Council has imposed a number of sanctions to try to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile ambitions. Asked about the tests and sanctions, Wei said that as a close neighbour of North Korea, China was also one of the victims of the situation because the tests took place on its doorstep. “Both [peoples] in China and North Korea have suffered in the nuclear crisis,” Wei said. He said that from his experience of travelling to the border between the two countries, he believed that international sanctions did not improve the situation. “The international community has ignored the bitterness and suffering of the North Korean people amid the UN sanctions,” Wei said. Wei’s assessment also comes a few weeks after China joined with Russia to veto a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions on North Korea, publicly splitting the UN Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006. As one of the council’s five members, Beijing has joined the UN in sanctions over the North’s nuclear tests since 2006, but since last year, China has teamed with Russia to block pushes for further measures, raising increasing concern over Beijing and Moscow’s “no limits” partnership. China has also refused to condemn Russia’s invasion in Ukraine or call it an invasion, and criticised Western sanctions on Moscow. Senior Colonel Zhang Chi, an associate professor at the PLA National Defence University and a member of the Chinese delegation to the Singapore forum, said Beijing did not think sanctions would have a big impact on Russia. “China has found that some Western countries who claim to back sanctions have used the Russian currency to buy natural resources from Moscow,” Zhang said. “What’s the point in keeping such an invalid countermeasure?” Wei also said the People’s Liberation Army would maintain its military ties with Russia in “a partnership, not an alliance”, adding Beijing had not provided “any weapons” to Moscow to help Russian troops fight in the Ukraine. “What is the cause of this Ukraine crisis? Who is the mastermind behind it? Who loses the most and who stands to gain the most? Who is promoting peace and who is adding fuel to the fire? I think we all know the answers,” he said. China has gained nothing from Ukraine war, says leading scholar On China’s bloody Himalayan border clash with Indian troops in 2020, and the skirmishes with Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s, Wei said Beijing had been keen to cultivate rapprochement with all neighbours, but he declined to give details of the deadly incidents. Asked about China’s nuclear development plan, Wei said all the nuclear arms and hypersonic weapons China showed in the country’s 70th anniversary national day parade in 2019 had been all put into service by the PLA. In that parade, China unveiled its most advanced DF-41 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles and JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The DF-41 missile has an estimated range of at least 12,000km (7,460 miles), putting the US mainland within range while the JL-2 can strike targets within 7,000km. The PLA also showed off its DF-17 hypersonic glide systems, a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, for the first time in 2019. The hypersonic boost-glide vehicles use a rocket booster to reach speeds of over Mach 5 and are more difficult to intercept than conventional missiles.