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Hotline to Help Ease Friction: Pace
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China and the United States have agreed to continue discussing the setting up of a "hotline" between military leaders that would help ease any possible friction, Peter Pace, chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press conference at the US embassy in Beijing.

He added that China posed no threat despite its military capacity.

"When you analyze the potential of the threat, you look for two things: capacity and intent," he said.

"Clearly, both China and the United States have enormous military capacity. But equally, neither country has the intent to create a war towards the other country.

"The biggest fear I have of the future is misunderstanding based on misinformation, so we talk about the possibility of establishing a hotline between our militaries to clear misunderstanding.

"It (establishing the hotline) will give us opportunity to pick up the phone and talk to somebody you know so that we can smooth out misunderstandings very quickly."

Insiders from the Ministry of National Defense said there would be more joint exercises between the two countries this year and that Timothy Keating, who will take command of the US Pacific Command next week, was expected to visit China.

Pace also said he appreciated proposals by his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, which include sending Chinese cadets to the US Army academy at West Point, participating or observing in joint exercises "that might be able to build trust and confidence among our forces".

"To me this was a very good, open discussion and one that I found very encouraging," Pace said, referring to his talks with Liang, chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and other Chinese officials.

"I came here to listen and learn about ways to cooperate."

Pace said he "is finding ways to foster understanding" between the two militaries, which would help foster understanding between the two countries so that we could become partners in the future".

Pace reiterated the US government's policy on Taiwan, saying: "We should respect the fundamental nature of that issue" by supporting one-China policy and the three Sino-US communiqus and not supporting Taiwan "independence".

Invited by Liang, Pace was the first high-ranking US military officer to visit China this year. This was also Pace's first China visit since he was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2005.

The four-day visit would also take Pace to China's military areas and institutions in Shenyang and Nanjing.

(China Daily March 24, 2007)

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