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US urged to repair military ties, stop selling weapons to Taiwan
By Cui Xiaohuo and Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-01-21 07:44

China Tuesday urged the US to take concrete steps to put bilateral military ties back on track after relations were derailed because of Pentagon's arms sales to Taiwan last year.

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The Barack Obama administration should clear the way for improved military ties, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

Announcing the publication of the sixth defense white paper since 1998, Hu Changming told a news briefing: "The US president-elect Obama will take office in a few hours and current US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will keep his job ... At present, when bilateral military ties face difficulties, we urge the US Defense Department to remove obstacles and take action to create favorable conditions for the healthy development of ties."

"Only when both countries respect each other's core interests can we consolidate the political base of our military relations," he said.

China suspended high-level military contact with the US in October in protest against Pentagon's $6.5-billion arms sales to Taiwan, which included 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

It was the largest arms sale to Taiwan since China and the US signed the August 17 Communiqu in 1982, in which the US agreed to gradually reduce sale of weapons to the island.

Last month, though, Obama said Sino-US military exchanges should continue. He said he even wanted to "resume laboratory-to-laboratory exchanges that were terminated in the 1990s".

US Navy Admiral Timothy Keating, who commands forces in Asia and the Pacific, said last month that he hoped the two countries would resume military contacts after China sent three of its navy ships to tackle pirates off Somali waters.

The defense white paper says China's security environment "continues to improve" with cross-Straits relations having "taken a significantly positive turn". But it criticizes US arms sales to the island, saying it is "seriously harming Sino-US relations, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits".

China is worried over the US' increased "strategic attention to and input in the Asia-Pacific region", the paper says.

The country is committed to peaceful development, the paper says. Despite the increase in military spending, China's per capita expenditure is much less than that of the US, Britain, France or Russia.