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China open to foreign military aid
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China is open to assistance in disaster relief by foreign armies, something which shows the country has become increasingly self-confident, Senior Colonel Hu Changming, Ministry of Defense spokesman, said Wednesday.

Hu thanked foreign defense ministries and armies for their donations and sympathetic messages at the press conference on the current earthquake relief sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council.

Hu, the first-ever spokesman for the country's defense ministry, attended the briefing with other army officers to answer questions on the its role in the ongoing anti-earthquake campaign in the country.

For decades, China had declined to accept any foreign aid in disaster relief. The country began receiving assistance from foreign militaries in a cautious manner, during the early years of the country's 30-year-old reform and opening-up drive, according to the spokesman.

Hu told the press that so far China had received relief goods such as tents, food, medicine and generators from 14 foreign defense ministries and armies, as well as donations in cash from some foreign defense ministries and armies. Meanwhile, leaders of 27 foreign defense ministries and armies had sent sympathetic messages to China, he added.

As of noon Wednesday, the catastrophic earthquake, which devastated dozens of cities and counties in west China on May 12, had claimed 69,146 lives, according to the latest official statistics.

(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2008)

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