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Band of brothers sets tone (2)

By Li Xiaokun and Zhao Shengnan  (China Daily)

08:42, October 30, 2012

"The US officers told me upon their arrival at the airport in Beijing that 'we have expected this day for too long'," said Senior Colonel Zou Rui, head of the People's Liberation Army Military Band.

The two bands planned to perform jointly in China in 2011 following the PLA band's tour to the US in April 2011. That was the first time military bands from the two countries had played together since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.

In Washington, Philadelphia and New York, the five concerts by the two bands were well received by both military officials and the general public.

But the reciprocal visit was delayed, among other military exchange programs between the two nations, after Washington announced it would sell $5.85 billion in arms to Taiwan in September 2011.

The US band arrived on Saturday for a 10-day visit and joint performances are scheduled for Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.

It has come on the heels of several high-level military exchanges this year, including Defense Minister Liang Guanglie's visit to the US in May and his counterpart Leon Panetta's visit to China in September.

According to Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, more exchange activities are scheduled before the end of this year, including a joint drill focusing on disaster relief in late November in Sichuan province.

US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and a US military medicine delegation will also visit China, while a workshop of senior officers from the Chinese military will visit the US this year, Yang said.

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