A group of 51 military attaches and deputy military attaches
from 44 countries arrived in southwest China's Chengdu for a visit
to Chengdu Military Area's Special Force on Wednesday.
Invited by China's Ministry of National Defense, they will visit
military sites and institutions in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, and learn about local
economic and social development.
"The Chinese army has become more open in the past few years. We
would like to improve our relations with the People's Liberation
Army (PLA) through this kind of visit," said Col. Michel
Vandermaelen, Belgian military attache in Beijing, who is also head
of the group.
Major General Zhang Bangdong, director of the foreign affairs
office of the Ministry of National Defense, said the visit provided
a good communication channel for foreign military officers to learn
more about the Chinese army.
"The special forces are always kept strictly secret in every
country. This time we have shown our confidence and transparency by
inviting foreign officers to visit," Zhang said.
The major task of the force includes special operations, combat,
counter-terrorism, maintaining social stability and disaster
The Special Force in Chengdu has taken part in many military
exercises, including a joint counter-terrorism exercise in Pakistan
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense invites foreign
military attaches to visit places outside Beijing each year, aiming
to enhance their understanding of China's armed forces and national
conditions, and to cement the friendship between foreign military
attaches and Chinese officers and soldiers.
(PLA Daily April 19, 2007)