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Major step in military opening
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10:40, September 03, 2007

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China yesterday took two important steps toward increasing the transparency of its military, with announcements that the nation will provide the United Nations with details of its military spending and its trade in conventional weapons.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China has decided to participate in the UN Military Transparency Mechanism, under which the country will report each year to the UN secretary-general on its military expenditure for the latest fiscal year.

The country will also resume providing data on its imports and exports of seven categories of conventional weapons to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms starting this year, said Jiang, whose remarks were posted on the Foreign Ministry's website.

These are two important decisions made by the Chinese government to increase the country's military transparency, she said.

Jiang emphasized that China had made important contributions toward the establishment and development of the UN Register of Conventional Arms, and provided data required by the register each year.

But it was forced to suspend its reporting in 1996, when "a certain country", which she declined to name, provided data on its arms sales to China's Taiwan Province to the register.

This contradicted the spirit of the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the objectives and principles of the register, she said.

As the country concerned has ceased the above-mentioned behavior, the Chinese government has decided to resume providing the data.

"I would like to reiterate that the Chinese government has all along taken a prudent and responsible attitude to its arms exports, and implemented strict controls on such exports according to its international obligations and domestic laws and regulations," Jiang said.

She said the "two decisions demonstrate that China pursues a security concept based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, and supports the important role played by the UN in promoting transparency in armaments and mutual trust in the field of security among nations".

Military strategy expert Peng Guangqian said that the decisions are a further example of China's long-time policy of military transparency, and "were not made as a result of pressure from any other country".

"China is highly transparent in terms of military policies and security strategy, as reflected in its commitment to no-first-use of nuclear weapons," Peng told China Daily.

But Peng noted: "Transparency will always be relative. The key point is mutual trust."

Responding to some Western concerns about China's increased military expenditure, which stood at 351 billion yuan ($46.4 billion) this year, a year-on-year increase of 17.8 percent, Peng said: "China needs to safeguard itself because there are still so many destabilizing factors in the world, including terrorism, separatism and extremism."

"Some just pointed out that our military expenditure is increasing, but ignored the fact that the major part of this is going toward the improvement of soldiers' livelihoods," said Peng.

Source: Xinhua/China Daily

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