US, China defense chiefs mend frayed military ties

China warns ties could be cut again if the US does not heed Beijing`s wishes.

Beijing: China and the US on Monday held high-
level defence talks after a year-long hiatus and discussed
about their mutual fears over the strategic perceptions and
military strengths but agreed to build stronger military ties
to avoid any "misunderstandings" leading to confrontation.

"We are in strong agreement that in order to reduce the
chances of miscommunication, misunderstanding or
miscalculation, it is important that our military-to-military
ties are solid, consistent and not subject to shifting
political winds," Defence Secretary Robert Gates told a joint
media conference here with Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang

Gates began his four day visit on Monday with an elaborate
meeting with Liang during which he directly took up US fears
over rapid development of Chinese military forces including
the development of new missile to destroy aircraft carriers.

His visit is expected to provide an opportunity for two
countries to improve military ties, which suffered some
frictions over the past year.

It was also seen as preparatory visit of Chinese
President Hu Jintao to Washington from January 18 to 21.

Gen Liang said he and Gates had "agreed that sustained
and reliable military-to-military contacts will help reduce
misunderstanding and miscalculation." But at the same he
asserted that China`s military hardware development is
targeting no other countries and poses no threat.

Asked by a US reporter whether China wanted to counter
the US military engagement in Asia by developing weapons,
Liang said Beijing had made progress in building its military
might and had developed weapons to meet its sovereignty and
security requirements.

However, he said, China still lagged far behind
developed nations in terms of weaponry and rejected claims
that China`s military development was a threat.

Dressed in his military uniform, Liang said he expected
other nations to objectively judge China`s military

China reported to have made progress in building a new
stealth fighter jet and US has already expressed concern over
the new ballistic missile that could destroy aircraft carrier
from about 3,200 km.

Ahead of his visit, Gates told reporters yesterday that
China had the potential to "put some of our capabilities at

"We have to pay attention to them. We have to respond
appropriately with our own programmes," he said.

Both Gates and Gen Liang denied that US and China were
involved in an arms race.


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