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Defense Ministry on Rumsfeld Visit

A Defense Ministry official said yesterday that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had left China with a certain understanding of the country's efforts to develop its national defense.


Zhang Bangdong, director of the ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, said at a press briefing that during Rumsfeld's three-day visit he had seen that it was "natural" for China to develop its armed forces, improve armaments and carry out military modernization.


Zhang quoted Rumsfeld as saying he hoped the Chinese armed forces would "increase transparency."


During Rumsfeld's visit, his first since becoming defense secretary, President Hu Jintao, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission Guo Boxiong and Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan met and held talks with him.


They agreed that the two nations' militaries should seek common ground while reserving differences, and promote exchanges in the forms of academy education, personnel exchanges and fleet visits.


"The two sides expressed willingness to further promote China-US friendly military cooperative ties," Zhang said after Rumsfeld's departure on Thursday.


He said Chinese leaders expounded on the importance of China-US military relations, and briefed Rumsfeld on China's stance on the Taiwan issue, defensive national defense policy and stand on maintaining world peace and the fight against terror.


Zhang said Rumsfeld had also said on many occasions that he wanted to see a "peaceful and prosperous" China, and hoped it would play its role as a responsible country in international affairs.


Rumsfeld also visited the Academy of Military Sciences and the Second Artillery Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and met Jing Zhiyuan, commander of the force.


"It is the first time that the PLA Second Artillery Force was open to a foreign military leader, which fully demonstrates the opening of the Chinese armed forces," according to Zhang.


The two sides reached a consensus on many issues during the visit, which Rumsfeld described as being "constructive" and "fruitful" and said would play an important role in developing US-China military ties.


"Of course, the US side still has doubts on China's peaceful development, armament building and military spending," Zhang said, adding that Chinese leaders have given explanations of these issues.


Zhang said differences between China and the US on some issues highlight the necessity for both sides to increase exchanges and cooperation so as to learn more about each other.


"These differences will not hinder the development of China-US military relations," Zhang said.


(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2005)


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