Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 4 News List

US, China in defense talks

AFP , BEIJING

China and the US held high-level talks in Beijing yesterday aimed at improving military ties, officials said, following recent heated exchanges between the two world powers over defense issues.

US 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 said, without giving details.

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

Zhang Qinsheng (章沁生), 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 US.

"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 US$35 billion a year it has acknowledged.

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