US, China to set up defense hot line soon

Updated: 2007-06-02 19:29

SINGAPORE - The United States praised the openness of China's military and a senior Chinese general said Saturday the two nations will soon set up a long-awaited defense hot line _ a strong indication of their improving defense ties.

In conciliatory comments made at a regional conference, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to downplay Pentagon's public concerns about China's increasing defense spending.

"I believe there is reason to be optimistic about the US China relationship," Gates said in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum of Asia-Pacific defense chiefs in Singapore.

Gates noted that the US and China have increased military-to-military contacts at all levels, and both countries have "a huge economic and trade relationship."

"As we gain experience in dealing with each other, relationships can be forged that will build trust over time," he said.

Speaking soon after Gates, Zhang, the Chinese army's deputy chief of the general staff, said US concerns about China's growing military spending were unfounded, and that its published military budget was "true and authentic."

He also said that the technological difficulties in setting up a military hot line, under discussion for several years, have been cleared.

"In September this year I will lead a delegation to the US," he said. "And at that time we will finalize the establishment of the hot line."

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours