Fri, May 20, 2011 - Page 1 News List

No missiles on the coast, PLA chief says

HOT AIR:Chen Bingde said China only has a garrison deployed across from Taiwan and that it does not have operational deployment, much less missiles, on the coast

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington, with AP

“Will future US arms sales to Taiwan impact the state-to-state and mil-to-mil [military-to-military] relations between China and the United States? My answer is affirmative — they will,” he said.

For his part, Mullen said it was essential to move the military relationship with China in a more positive direction.

“We spent the bulk of our time talking, trying to understand the security environment from one another’s perspective and trying to gain a better sense of the common interests we share,” he said. “I believe that we have established a foundation upon which we can explain ourselves and that we can begin to look forward to mutual transparency about what we are doing.”

Pressed to comment on the possible sale of F-16C/Ds to Taiwan, Mullen said: “With respect to the F-16s, the honest truth is I have not drilled down into that to make an evaluation about my own judgment with respect to the impact in terms of them [Taiwan] defending themselves or just how many or how much of an upgrade they might need.”

“In the United States, as in China, we follow the law. We have a law, which is the Taiwan ­Relations Act, and we will continue to follow that until such a time as that may change. That’s the responsibility of Congress to certainly initiate that, and while there may be discussions, that’s not something I’m aware is up in terms of priority at this point in time,” he said. “As long as that law remains in effect, certainly we will follow it.”

Chen Bingde said he had invited Mullen to make his first visit to China as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, while he and Mullen also announced several agreements, including a plan for the US and Chinese militaries to jointly conduct a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise next year.

They also agreed to use a special telephone link to maintain communication between their offices.

Chen Bingde told reporters that China’s recent boost of investment in military power was “compensatory in nature,” making up for decades during which modernizing the Chinese economy was given the first priority. Washington often complains that China is too secretive about the purpose and exact scale of its military buildup.

Earlier, during a 45-minute speech at National Defense University, Chen Bingde had sought to counter US worries about his country’s rapid military growth, saying: “Although China’s defense and military development has come a long way in recent years, a gaping gap between you and us remains.”

“China never intends to challenge the US. I can tell you that China does not have the capability to challenge the US,” he said, adding that China’s wealth and military strength paled in comparison with that of the US and its navy was 20 years behind the US Navy.

Chen Bingde’s remarks were in line with China’s strategy of countering US fear of China as a military threat by emphasizing the limited scope of its military reach and advancing efforts to cooperate in areas like counterterrorism and anti-piracy measures.

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