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
"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)