China's navy will develop a new generation of warships and aircraft to give it much longer-range capabilities, its commander-in-chief said in comments published Thursday.
Admiral Wu Shengli told the state-run China Daily newspaper the Chinese navy wanted to develop hardware such as large combat warships, stealth submarines with abilities to travel further and supersonic cruise aircraft.
More accurate long-range missiles, deep-sea torpedoes and a general upgrade of information technology were also in the pipeline, according to Wu.
"The navy will establish a maritime defence system that corresponds with the need to protect China's maritime security and economic development," Wu said.
The English-language China Daily, which the government uses to deliver messages to a foreign audience, printed his comments on its front page and said it had obtained a rare interview with such a high-ranking military figure.
It quoted other Chinese military figures as saying that Wu's reference to building large warships referred to highly-publicised plans to build an aircraft carrier, but also other unspecified vessels.
Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie was quoted in state media last month saying China no longer wanted to be the only major global power without an aircraft carrier.
Wu's comments also further indicate the Chinese leadership does not intend to back down amid complaints from the US and its allies about China's dramatic military build-up in recent years.
The Pentagon said in a report last month that the Chinese military's pursuit of sophisticated weaponry was altering Asia's military balance and could be used to enforce Beijing's claims over disputed territories.
China has kept up major investment in its armed forces and made advances in high-tech weaponry that outpace other countries in the region, the report said.
It also repeated US accusations that China is not being transparent about its military build-up and is underestimating its defence budget, claims Beijing denies.
China announced in March that its defence budget would rise 15.3 percent this year to 472.9 billion yuan (69 billion dollars).