Xu Caihou, vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, left here on Sunday for official goodwill visits to Venezuela, Chile and Brazil.
Xu, as a senior officer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), was invited by Venezuelan Minister of National Defense Gustavo Rangel Briceno, Chilean Minister of National Defence Jose Goni andBrazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim.
"The tour is an important diplomatic activity of the armed forces, which aims at enhancing the mutual understanding and substantial military exchanges and cooperation," said Qian Lihua, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Chinese Defense Ministry.
Qian told Xinhua that Xu will meet with leaders of the three Latin American countries and hold talks with the defense ministers. He will also visit military institutes.
He said such military exchanges between China and Latin American countries were entirely normal between armed forces, and were aimed at no third parties and threatening the interests of noother countries.
China has carried out military exchanges and cooperation with 18 Latin American countries, especially in high-level, professional and academy exchanges and personnel training.
Many PLA senior officers, including former Defense Minister CaoGangchuan and former General Staff Chief Liang Guanglie, had visited Latin America, while senior military officers and defense officials from more than 10 Latin American countries have visited China since 2000.
China had sent delegations of young and middle-aged professional officers as well as delegations specializing in military training, information construction and hydrology and weather to Latin America.
Dozens of officers from Latin American countries studied in China's military academies every year or attended seminars held byChina for senior officers. China also sent officers to study in Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. Two rounds of seminars for senior defense officials from the Caribbean had been held since 2007.
The armed forces of China and Latin American countries also conducted cultural exchanges.
A Chinese military band conducted a road show in the Caribbean in 2006. A Chinese class was opened in Chile, and some teams were teaching Sun-tzu's Art of War, China's ancient classic on military strategy, in Chile and Argentina.
"The military exchanges and cooperation are an important component of China's overall relationship with the Latin America, and play a positive role in promoting its development. The exchanges and cooperation between the armed forces will enhance mutual understanding and friendship, and help them learn from each other," Qian said.
China was willing to continue cooperation with Latin America in military exchanges and defense dialogue, promote high-level visits as well as professional exchanges and personnel training and expand cooperation in non-traditional security fields, so as to contribute to friendship and cooperation.