With U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration just hours away, China's military Tuesday urged the new U.S. administration to remove barriers to bilateral military relations.
"Facing the current difficulties in military relations, we call for the United States to take concrete measures to remove the obstacles," Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming said at a press conference upon the release of China's sixth white paper on national defense.
China-U.S. military ties were strained after the Pentagon announced a $6.5 billion arms deal with Taiwan in October. The deal included 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.
It was the biggest arms sale to Taiwan since China and the United States signed the "August 17 Communique" in 1982, in which the United States agreed to gradually reduce its arms sales to Taiwan.
The white paper also criticized the United States for continuing to "sell arms to Taiwan in violation of the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, causing serious harm to Sino-U.S. relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."
Military contacts between the two countries were active and fruitful before the Taiwan arms sale, Chinese military officers said.
Apart from frequent exchanges at different levels, the two defense departments set up hotlines and military officials got involved in bilateral strategic talks for the first time last year.
Last December, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney came to Beijing to try to mend strained military ties. The visit didn't produce any substantive result.
During a visit to Beijing early this month, outgoing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with China's Gen. Ma Xiaotian to discuss how to resume bilateral military exchanges.
Hu said China always valued military relations with the United States, which were in the common interests of both nations.
"I noted that President-elect Obama will take office in a few hours and the current U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, will keep his post.
"In the new era, I expect the two sides to make joint efforts to create conditions for the continuous improvement and development of bilateral military ties," Hu said.
"Three decades of China-U.S. ties have proved that their military relations enjoy a solid political foundation only when each other's core interests are respected," Hu said.
MILITARY TRUST WITH TAIWAN
Stressing that the Taiwan issue concerned China's fundamental and core interests, the spokesman said current cross-Straits relations were "moving forward along a peaceful development track.
"The two sides across the Taiwan Straits should work together and create conditions for the establishment of military trust mechanism," Hu said.
The white paper said the situation across the Taiwan Straits has "taken a significantly positive turn."
The paper attributed the improvement to the failed attempts of what it termed separatist forces seeking "Taiwan independence" and the progress made in cross-Straits consultations.
Hu said China has limited deployment of military forces on the Taiwan Straits based on the nation's fundamental security interests.
"When the [mainland's] military deployment is going to be readjusted will be decided in accordance with changes in the developing situation across the Taiwan Straits."
He called for the two sides to step up contacts and exchanges on military issues "at an appropriate time" and talk about a military mechanism of mutual trust, in a bid to ease military concerns and stabilize cross-Straits relations.
SOMBER, FRUGAL 60TH ANNIVERSARY PARADE
As an important part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a military dress parade will be staged in the symbolic heart of Tian'anmen Square on Oct. 1, Col. Cai Huailie told the press conference.
"The parade is aimed at showcasing military achievements over the three decades of reform and opening-up, particularly in the new century," Cai said.
The all-services parade, which will feature a broader range of new weapons, will be kept low-cost.
The late Chinese leader Mao Zedong inspected the nation's first military parade at its founding ceremony on Oct. 1, 1949. There were 10 annual parades through 1959, and the ceremony was suspended until Oct. 1, 1984, when the late Deng Xiaoping inspected an all-services parade that marked the debut of China's strategic missile corps.
The most recent parade was held on the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic in 1999.
Previous parades "wonderfully and deeply"impressed the Chinese people, showed the strengths of the nation and the military, and significantly enhanced enhanced national pride, Cai said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2009)