US, China military visits in limbo

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Army deputies said on Thursday that the door to military exchanges with the United States remains open, but urged the Pentagon to take the initiative to fix the stagnant Sino-US military relations.

The Pentagon needs to make "real gestures" to bring back normal relations between the two militaries, they said.

China in January decided to suspend military exchanges, including scheduled high-level visits between the Chinese and US armed forces, in response to the White House's announcement that it would sell a package of arms worth about $6.4 billion to Taiwan.

Washington angered Beijing again when US President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama last month at the White House.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi insisted this week that Washington owes the task of repairing the damaged bilateral ties.

"The Pentagon is responsible for the current stagnant situation between the two militaries," said Lieutenant General Li Dianren with the National Defense University, the top military institute for army officers.

"But now it is unclear how long the ice age will last," the NPC deputy told China Daily during the ongoing top legislature meeting in Beijing. "It's simple to see why China is upset. How would the Pentagon feel if China snapped up arms trade with one of its states?"

Pentagon officials have said earlier that China has postponed planned visits to the US by Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, as well as visits by one of its top regional commanders.

China's Defense Ministry spokesman Huang Xueping said last month that the country stands firm on suspending military visits to the US.

The visits would include General Chen's US tour as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates' planned China tour. Gates said late last month that he still plans to visit China later this year.

Lieutenant General Xu Genchu, with the Academy of Military Sciences, said the exchanges of visits between top military officials of the two countries are unlikely to take place soon, unless the US takes some actions.

"I haven't heard the exchanges will happen any time soon," said Xu, who was among the first Chinese military officers to visit US in the 1990s.

Also on Thursday, Zhou Wenzhong, China's former ambassador to the US and a top political advisor, told China Daily that the planned trip to Beijing might be postponed.

"The original plan (for Gates' visit) was in the first half of this year. Both countries hadn't decided the actual month," said Zhou, who left the ambassador's post less than a month ago. "(The visit) should have been postponed."

General Zhao Keming, another senior army deputy to the NPC, urged the US to make some "real gestures."

"The US has interrupted the peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations and interfered with the Tibetan question, which China views as its core interests," said the general.

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