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
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
"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