Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - Page 5 News List

China’s military contact with US resumes with official’s visit

AP , BEIJING

China’s five-month suspension in US-Chinese military contacts to protest Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan has ended with the visit this week of a US Defense Department official, a top Chinese officer said yesterday.

China put such exchanges on hold in October over a US$6.5 billion US arms sale to self-governing Taiwan, including such advanced weaponry as Patriot missiles and Apache attack helicopters. China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, said the sale interfered with internal Chinese affairs and harmed its national security.

In retaliation, Beijing canceled a US visit by a senior Chinese general, other similar visits and port calls by naval vessels. It also indefinitely postponed meetings on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Writing in the official English-language China Daily newspaper, Rear Admiral Yang Yi (楊毅) said formal contacts would resume with the exchanges yesterday and today between top Chinese officers and David Sedney, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asian security affairs.

However, Yang said Beijing would continue to protest arms sales to Taiwan and rejected US criticisms over a lack of transparency in China’s military buildup.

“China will not tolerate any infringement into its core national interests and will make no concession on this principal issue,” Yang wrote.

“China’s reasonable military development and military transparency has long been an outstanding issue in Sino-US bilateral relations,” he said.

Yang also contended that improved relations between Taiwan and China over recent months have “deprived the US of any excuses for continued arms sales to the island.”

The US embassy said the talks were closed to the media, but a briefing would be held today. Meetings began early yesterday and were due to wind up either later in the day or this morning, the embassy said.

Nearly 20 years of annual double-digit percentage increases in China’s defense budget have raised concerns from the US and China’s neighbors, although Beijing says any worries are unfounded.

That figure will be closely scrutinized when the national legislature opens for its annual session next month, amid from falling exports and declining tax revenues.

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