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China will not subjugate its national interests, Adm. Sun Jianguo told a regional defense forum in Singapore, even as he painted a picture of a country willing to cooperate on matters including the disputed South China Sea.

“China strives to play a constructive role in international affairs with an objective and impartial position and will never depend on or subjugate itself to any external forces,” Sun said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter used his address at the forum to single out China as a source of instability.

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