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China, UK commit to advancing military ties

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-30 09:45

LONDON - China and Britain share the desire to advance military ties and build mutual trust, high-ranking officials from both countries said in London on Monday.

The officials made the remarks at a grand reception held by the Chinese embassy to mark the upcoming 86th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Speaking on bilateral military exchanges, British Chief of the Defense Staff Nicholas Houghton said "We are building on an extensive range of visits between our countries, most of it quite senior level."

Therefore, "we can better understand not just our capabilities but also the policies that underpin those capabilities. Because we think it is so important that there is mutual trust and confidence, as well as friendship between our nations," he said.

"We try to every year increase the level of contacts, so that consistently we will have better mutual understanding and hopefully better trust," Houghton said.

His views were echoed by Chinese Defense Attache Cai Yong.

"General Sir Nicholas Houghton, then British Vice Chief of Defense Staff, set up the Defense Strategic Dialogue with the former Chinese Deputy Chief of the General Staff General Ma Xiaotian. This dialogue mechanism has played a big role in building the mutual trust between the two armed forces," Cai said.

Although there have been key military personnel changes in China and Britain since last year, as General Houghton and General Ma were appointed to new posts, both sides "remain committed to high-level military exchanges, regular dialogues and deeper cooperation," he said.

While introducing the progress of modernization and standardization of the PLA, Cai mentioned China's first aircraft carrier "Liaoning" and emphasized that the research and development programs of new advanced weaponry are "normal development of China's national defense."

"China unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of self-reliance and peace, and insists a national defense policy of defensive nature. China insists on resolving disputes and differences through political dialogue and other peaceful means," he said.

On transparency, Cai said a new defense white paper released by China's Defense Ministry has detailed the organizational structure and development of the PLA, and "testifies to greater transparency in the Chinese military."

On international cooperation, Cai said China "stands ready to engage in international military exchanges and cooperation so that we can jointly safeguard world peace and meet common challenges."

China is the biggest troop and police contributor among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, with more than 20,000 military personnel dispatched to 30 UN peacekeeping missions.

A guard detachment of 170 Chinese personnel have been assembled and will soon set off to Mali on the latest UN peacekeeping mission. This marks a new level of China's participation in such operations, Cai said.

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