Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Hu calls for military modernization to reflect development

AFP AND AP , BEIJING

Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for modernization of the armed forces, moving onto some of his predecessor Jiang Zemin's favorite turf.

In remarks published by the People's Daily and other mass-circulation papers yesterday, Hu said the improvement of the national defense should reflect China's "economic development and scientific advancement."

High-tech developments have greatly facilitated new military changes in the world, said the president, who is also vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.

"China must improve its research into the change so as to constantly improve national defense and military modernization," Hu said, according to the report.

Jiang, who stepped down from the presidency in March this year, has repeatedly called for the broader use of high technology by the nation's armed forces.

The fact that Hu, not Jiang, is formulating a vision for the country's military future could reflect a power struggle that some observers believe is unfolding in Beijing.

Meanwhile, China launched a third navigation satellite yesterday, completing a new location-finding system able to pinpoint positions at any given time and place, in a step that could aid the country's effort to modernize its transport, telecommunications and weapons systems.

The Beidou satellite was launched on a Long March 3-A carrier rocket, which blasted off at 12:34am from the Xichang Satellite Launching Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It joins the first two Beidou navigation satellites sent into orbit in 2000.

China has spent heavily on developing its secretive, military-linked space program -- a symbol of national prestige -- and the launch could aid in the development of advanced military technologies, such as cruise missile systems.

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