US, China defense chiefs mend frayed military ties
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Last Updated: Monday, January 10, 2011, 23:46
  
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 Guanglie.

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 modernisation.

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 risk."

"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.

PTI


First Published: Monday, January 10, 2011, 23:46


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