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Friday, June 09, 2006

China US Hold Military Talks Following Heated Exchanges

Beijing(AFP): China and the United States held high-level talks here Thursday aimed at improving military ties, officials said, following recent heated exchanges between the two world powers over defense issues.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman was holding one day of meetings with senior Chinese military officials as part of regular defense talks between the two nations, a US embassy spokeswoman told AFP, without giving details.

"The improvement of our military-to-military relations is necessary because it is an important part of the improvement of our overall relations," China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Rodman as saying in his opening remarks.

Zhang Qinsheng, assistant chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, headed the Chinese delegation at the talks, it said.

The talks, while not in response to recent bilateral tensions, come after the Pentagon released a report last month that said China's military modernization posed a credible long-term threat to the United States.

"China's military expansion is already such as to alter regional military balances," the report said.

"Long-term trends in China's strategic nuclear forces modernization, land- and sea-based access denial capabilities, and emerging precision-strike weapons have the potential to pose credible threats to modern militaries operating in the region."

The report said China was spending two to three times more on its military than the 35 billion dollars a year it has acknowledged.

Beijing strongly protested the report, saying it exaggerated China's military strength and expenditure and was based on "a Cold War mentality" aimed at fueling the "China threat theory."

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao also blasted weekend comments by US Secretary Defense Donald Rumsfeld over the alleged lack of transparency in the Chinese military.

"We cannot accept the constant criticism from the country which has the largest military spending in the world," Liu told journalists.
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