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Foreign Military Attaches Visit Chengdu
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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 relief.

The Special Force in Chengdu has taken part in many military exercises, including a joint counter-terrorism exercise in Pakistan last December.

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)

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