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China's Pragmatic Military Diplomacy in 2004

China's military diplomacy has become more practical, more active and more effective in 2004, said an official with the Defense Ministry.  

The official said the diplomatic activities of China's military in 2004 are marked with wider cooperation with its foreign counterparts.


Frequent visits    


In January, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers visited China; in December, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov paid his second visit to China this year.


Earlier, more than 10 French high-ranking military officers came to China for a seminar to discuss defense issues with their Chinese counterparts.


"This was the first exchange of China's armed forces with their counterparts from one developed country, though the Defense Ministry has held six international defense seminars since 1999 with a number of attendees from developed countries," said the Defense Ministry official, who declined to be named.


Analysts say these activities showed improved bilateral military relations between China and western countries, especially the European Union.


According to statistics from the Defense Ministry, there have been more than 100 exchange programs this year. These exchanges included Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Guo Boxiong's visit to Russia, Egypt and South Africa; Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan's visit to Pakistan, India, Thailand, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Brazil; Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Caihou's visit to Cuba and Mexico; and Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Liang Guanglie's visit to Russia, France, Britain, the United States, and Australia.


Regional security and maneuvers   


As a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China has actively contributed to the ASEAN regional security forum.


With the first Security Policy Conference of the ASEAN Regional Forum held in Beijing on November 4-6, China has helped expand the channel for dialogue on security issues between high-ranking military officials in the Asia-Pacific region.


On September 25, China invited more than 60 high-ranking military officers from 16 neighboring countries to visit the "Iron Fist -- 2004" military maneuver launched by the Chinese army.


China's military also carried out naval maneuvers with British, French and Australian navies, anti-terrorism exercise with the Pakistan army, and joint mountaineering training with India's military.


"Frequent joint maneuvers, ranging from anti-terrorism to rescue," said military analyst Chen Hu, "show that China is expanding its military exchanges and cooperation with other countries in both the traditional and nontraditional security fields."


In 2004 China conducted 19 rounds of strategic consultations and security dialogues with 13 countries, including the United States, Russia, Germany, France and Britain, and established a strategic consultation mechanism with Canada.


The Chinese military sent several hundred officers to study or to visit military facilities in other countries, and it also trained more than 1,000 military personnel from nearly 100 countries in China.


(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2004)

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