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China stresses importance of Taiwan to US secretary of defense
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Two senior Chinese military leaders on Monday met with visiting US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to stress the importance of Taiwan issue in the relationship between the two countries and the two armed forces.

"We should properly handle the sensitive issues that may influence the development of relations between the two countries and two armed forces, especially the Taiwan issue," said Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

Guo Boxiong (R), vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), talks with visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Beijing, Nov. 5, 2007.

Guo told Gates the Taiwan issue concerned China's fundamental interests and the sentiments of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

He said the Chinese government and armed forces' position on the Taiwan issue was consistent. "We will continue to try our best with the utmost sincerity to realize peaceful reunification, but we will by no means tolerate 'Taiwan independence' and allow anyone to separate Taiwan from China in any name or in any form," said Guo.

Xu Caihou (R), vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), talks with visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Beijing, Nov. 5, 2007.

Guo hailed the general good momentum of the development of China-US relationship, saying the development of such a relationship was of strategic significance and global influence.

He proposed that the two sides strengthen strategic mutual trust and deepen practical cooperation in a bid to implement the consensus reached by President Hu and President Bush on promoting bilateral military ties.

Gates said his exchanges with the Chinese side during this visit had made important progress. The two sides agreed to strengthen strategic dialogue and discussed concrete steps to enhance military-to-military ties.

CMC Vice-chairman Xu Caihou elaborated on China's principle and position on the Taiwan issue, saying the two armed forces should further strengthen dialogue and enhance mutual understanding to guarantee the healthy and steady development of the relationship between the two armed forces.

Xu expressed his appreciation for the importance attached by Gates to the development of bilateral military ties and his devotion to building mutual trust.

Gates had held talks with his Chinese counterpart Cao Gangchuan on Monday morning. The two agreed to establish a direct telephone link between the two defense establishments, the first-ever hotline established between China and other countries at the defense ministry level.

Gates arrived on Sunday for a three-day official visit to China. This is his first visit to China since he became US secretary of defense in December last year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2007)

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