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China,US hold defense talks despite frictions

By Li Xiaokun and Zhao Shengnan  (China Daily)

09:13, December 08, 2011

Ma Xiaotian (right), deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and Michele Flournoy, US undersecretary of defense for policy, attend annual China-US defense talks in Beijing on Wednesday. (China Daily/Agencies)

BEIJING - High-ranking officials from China and the United States held their annual defense consultative talks (DCT) as planned on Wednesday in Beijing, despite recent frictions including US arms sales to Taiwan.

"The fact that the consultations took place as scheduled shows that both countries are being sincere about maintaining military exchanges," Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), told US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy at the start of their talks.

The consultations marked the first engagement between the defense ministries of both countries since the US announced in September its $5.85-billion arms sale to Taiwan, including upgrades for 145 of Taiwan's fighter jets.

Beijing later delayed some planned military exchanges with the US such as a visit to China by Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the US Pacific Command, and joint China-US anti-piracy exercises.

Last week, a Chinese military spokesman criticized Washington's plan to strengthen its military presence in Australia as "Cold War thinking" that will destabilize the Asia-Pacific region.

"Hopefully, both sides will make the best of this opportunity to expand common ground, keep risks under control and avoid misjudgment," Ma said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on the same day at a regular news conference that China's defense policy should not be a cause for alarm.

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