PLA Promotes Friendship Around the World

Chinese armed forces have continued to build trust and co-operation with their counterparts in many countries this year, said a senior official with the Ministry of National Defence.

Military contact with foreign countries - an important element of the country's diplomacy - has been developing remarkably in the past seven months, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

Military relations with the United States, which have been developing within the larger framework of bilateral relations, have been very fruitful, said the official.

Defence Minister Chi Haotian said in late June while meeting visiting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Peter Rodman that China is ready to make joint efforts with the United States to improve military relations.

Rodman is one of the highest US defence officials to visit China since the collision between a US surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter plane in April 2001.

Sino-US military relations have had their ups and downs over the past two years.

Both sides began to co-operate in the field of anti-terrorism following the September 11 incident.

The two meetings between the Chinese and US presidents within four months since late last year, plus Vice-President Hu Jintao's visit to the US, have helped shape a consensus on developing constructive and co-operative relations, and have promoted the development of military relations, said the official.

During Rodman's visit, top Chinese military leaders put forward four principles for development of bilateral military relations: mutual respect, mutual benefit, enhancement of mutual understanding and maintaining a focus on bilateral relations as a whole.

A stable military relationship between China and the United States will contribute to stability and peace in both the region and the world, since both countries are responsible for and share a common interest in promoting world peace and development, the official said.

However, the Chinese Government has repeated on many occasions that only if the United States earnestly observes the joint communiques between the two countries and honours all its commitments on the Taiwan question, the most important and sensitive one for bilateral ties, can Sino-US relations develop in a healthy way.

China and its largest neighbour, Russia, have maintained good military ties and all-round, multi-level relations, the official said.

The Chinese and Russian defence ministers held a meeting in June in which they recognized that the two countries share the same or similar views on many major international issues, such as anti-hegemony, multi-polarization, and the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

"The ongoing development of the Sino-Russian strategic and co-operative partnership is undoubtedly conducive to the creation of a global strategic balance," said the official, adding that Sino-Russian military trust and co-operation has been an important component of a driving force in bilateral strategic co-operative relations between the two countries.

Furthering development of military relations with neighbouring countries plays an active role in maintaining security and stability in the region, said the official.

Meanwhile, he said, military trust among the countries of Northeast Asia, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and South Asia has been greatly enhanced.

Senior military leaders from Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Brunei have visited China in the past few months. Military delegations from China have also paid visits to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolia.

China and Central Asian countries have also built up military trust.

Defence ministers of members of the Shanghai Co-operative Organization gathered in Moscow in May and reached agreement on further military co-operation to combat terrorism, transnational separatism and religious extremism.

Co-operation among the armed forces of China and Central Asian countries will also help safeguard regional stability and world peace, the defence ministry official said.

Enhancing unity and co-operation with developing countries has always been a fixture of China's foreign policy, the official said.

In the first six months of this year, top military leaders from China and more than 10 developing countries, including South Africa, Mozambique, Egypt, the Republic of Sudan, Brazil and Chile, exchanged visits.

Military ties with European Union countries have also been developed smoothly. Chinese military delegations visited Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and China have received senior military leaders from Germany, Britain, Italy, Greece and Austria since last year.

Other Western countries such as Australia and Canada also sent military delegations to China.

Ships from the naval arm of the Chinese People's Liberation Army left their port in Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province in May for a round-the-world voyage, the first in Chinese naval history.

The fleet visited many countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America, including Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, and the voyage marked another milestone in the navy's contact with the rest of the world.

With the rapid development of regionalization and globalization, the Chinese military has been actively engaging in regional security dialogue and co-operation aimed at promoting trust, said the official.

People's Daily Online ---