Sino-US military hotline to be set up

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-04 06:48

SINGAPORE: China and the United States plan to set up a defense hotline aimed at improving military relations, a top Chinese general said over the weekend.

Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, made the remarks at the plenary session of a three-day security summit known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

He said the issue of the hotline between the Chinese military and the US Defense Department would be settled when he visits the United States in September for the ninth Sino-US defense talks.

Zhang also told the summit that China's defense budget is authentic.

As the Chinese military gradually modernizes, some have raised questions over "military transparency", and voiced suspicions on China's defense budget. So it is necessary to clarify the matter, Zhang said.

"In China, defense budgeting must follow a set of strict legal procedures, and the published budget is true and authentic," he said.

He added that the increased proportion of the defense budget is mostly used to make up for inflation, improve the welfare of military personnel and logistics support.

"Given the multiple security threats, the geo-political environment, the size of the territory, and per-capita expense, the Chinese defense expenditure is small by any yardstick," he added.

He stressed that "China is gradually making progress in military transparency following the principles of trust, responsibility, security and equality".

The annual Shangri-La Dialogue, named after the Singapore hotel at which the event has been held since its launch in 2002, and organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, opened on Friday.

It gathered defense ministers and top officials from 26 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe to address major regional security issues and defense cooperation.

Also at the meeting, the US and China turned down the heat on a dispute over Beijing's military build-up, with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates expressing optimism about future relations.

Gates downplayed past US rhetoric on China's military might. "As we gain experience in dealing with each other, relationships can be forged that will build trust over time," Gates said.

China Daily - Agencies

(China Daily 06/04/2007 page1)

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