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PLA diplomacy to ease tensions (2)

By Zhao Shenghan and Wang Chenyan  (China Daily)

16:35, September 04, 2012

China is increasingly using military diplomacy to supplement other exchanges, said Meng Xiangqing, deputy director of the Strategic Research Institute at the National Defense University of the PLA.

The central feature of Beijing's diplomacy is to create a secure region, but "it will not yield when sovereignty and territory are concerned", he said.

Military exchanges, the most sensitive part of bilateral ties, will help reduce suspicion and enhance mutual trust, said Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"We have the ability to defend our waters, and we have not used military force. If we were to do so, it would be as a last resort. We are conducting talks, using diplomatic means and some civilian, law enforcement means, to resolve the conflict. This way is the best," Ma Xiaotian told Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV earlier in Beijing.

Taylor Fravel, an associate professor of political science and a member of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was quoted in an article in the Diplomat magazine as saying that Beijing's diplomatic initiatives should be recognized.

"Although PLA-affiliated media commentators, such as Major General Luo Yuan, have called for China to adopt a more forceful response, uniformed officers such as Ma Xiaotian and Liang Guanglie have not. ... Of course, China will continue to assert its claims. But the PLA's support for a diplomatic approach and limiting the potential for escalation should be noted," Fravel told the magazine in June.

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