Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 5 News List

US lawmaker praises Chinese military transparency while touring PRC sites

AP , BEIJING

China's military has been candid about its capabilities with visiting US lawmakers, allowing them to tour a navy destroyer and an artillery division that controls nuclear missiles, a senior US lawmaker said yesterday.

Representative Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he and six other lawmakers were in China to promote "continued openness" with the Chinese military.

The People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing army with 2.3 million members, is often criticized for a lack of transparency and accused of routinely understating its budget.

But Skelton said Beijing had been open during his visit.

"We've received very candid answers about the capability of their military. They seem to be hiding nothing in our discussions with them," Skelton said.

"I think it's beneficial to both China and the United States that there be strong military to military exchanges" to minimize misunderstandings, he said.

The group has met with several Chinese officials and toured a naval destroyer at a base in Qingdao in northeastern China. Yesterday, they were scheduled to visit China's military sciences academy and the No. 2 artillery division, which controls China's nuclear and conventional missile forces.

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