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Military diplomacy scores new success
( 2003-12-29 23:39) (Xinhua)

China this year sent military delegations to more than 50 countries and welcomed 68 armed forces delegations from over 50 countries, according to sources with the Ministry of National Defense.

Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan visited the United States, Chinese peace-keepers went to the Congo and Liberia, and China participated for the first time in multilateral military exercises.

China's armed forces have become more involved in diplomacy more open toward the outside world.

From Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, Cao Gangchuan, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and a state councilor, made a trip to the United States at the invitation of US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. This was the Chinese defense minister's first visit to Pentagon in seven years, which signified the recovery of Sino-US military exchanges which had suspended after a plane collision incident in 2001.

Minister of National Defense Cao's visit to Russia in December reinforced the Sino-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation. Military leaders of France, India, Japan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand all visited China this year, which cemented the existing military ties.

China's military relations with the United States, Russia, the European Union and Japan are improving and upgrading, said Xu Jia, a noted expert on international relations.

On Aug. 6 to 12 this year, forces from five member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), namely, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, took part in a joint anti-terror exercise named "Coalition 2003".

It was the first exercise of its kind within the framework of the SCO, an organization founded primarily to crack down on the " three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism. It was also the first time China had pitched in multilateral joint military maneuvers.

Chinese and Pakistani naval forces conducted a joint search and rescue exercise this year. It was the first time the Chinese navy had held a joint exercise with the Pakistan navy since the founding of new China. The first ever joint naval exercise between China and India was launched on Nov. 14, 2003. This constituted another achievement in Sino-Indian exchanges since Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes visited China last April.

Meanwhile, Chinese delegates were also invited to observe military exercises in Russia, France, the US, Thailand and Singapore.

China this year sent its peace-keeping forces abroad twice, including a mission to Liberia with the largest number of Chinese peace-keeping soldiers in history.

The Chinese government and armed forces have realized more clearly the responsibility of safeguarding peace, said Zhu Chenghu, a prestigious military training expert with the University of National Defense.

The peace-keeping missions provided Chinese military forces with opportunities to cooperate and coordinate with other armed forces, and get a better understanding of the outside world, he said.

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