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China, US militaries thaw ties
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08:17, June 01, 2009

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China and the Unites States must use "real wisdom" to remove the obstacles from their relationship, experts said Sunday following the announcement the nations would resume high-level defense talks this month.

The Ministry of Defense said preparations for the 10th Defense Consultative Talks (DCT) since 1997 were under way, but would not provide any details as to when or where they would be held.

It is believed they will be staged in Beijing, as on previous occasions, while the talks will be the first senior-level defense meeting between the nations for 18 months.

The last was in Washington in December 2007, but almost all military exchanges were frozen between last October and February as China protested a $6.5-billion arms deal to Taiwan brokered by the Bush administration.

The resumption of the talks follows a meeting between Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Singapore at the weekend.

Both were among military officials and experts from nearly 30 countries and regions at the Asia Security Summit, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

It is also believed Lieutenant General Ma will represent China for the DCT and the US will send Gates' next in command.

Meanwhile, experts hailed the proposed meeting as the highest-level defense talks since US President Barack Obama took office this year. But they were also cautious.

The discussions will almost certainly touch on the ongoing nuclear situation in the Korean Peninsula, as well as age-old topics such as military trust after Gates urged transparency again at the Singapore summit.

David Sedney, a Pentagon official, said during an earlier visit to Beijing that both sides had their own interpretation of transparency under different "cultural contexts" and further discussions were needed.

Experts in Beijing agreed, while Major General Jin Yinan, a renowned military expert who attended the last Sino-US military talks, told China Daily the question of transparency should not be used to blame China for blocking military exchanges.

"The US military has backed down on inviting China to its advanced weapons and key military training in recent years," he said.

Major General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, said both nations will exchange judgment on security environments during the talks, and added: "The US should not ask for China's help without taking into consideration its security concerns and the opinion of ordinary Chinese."

Pan Zheng, a senior expert in US strategy at the National Defense University, said: "It will take real wisdom to find practical measures to remove the interior, military and diplomatic obstacles in the ties between China and the US."

Source: China Daily

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