Foreign and Military Affairs

Chen to visit key military sites in US

Updated: 2011-05-13 07:45

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The United States will open key army, navy and air force sites to a visiting top Chinese military leader to show its desire for better military ties, a senior People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer said.

"The US side made considerate arrangements. Some sites have not accepted visiting military leaders for years," said Huang Xueping, director of the America and Oceania Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense.

The senior colonel made the remarks at a news conference on Chief of the General Staff of the PLA Chen Bingde's week-long visit to the US starting on Sunday, the first by a Chinese chief of general staff to the US in seven years.

Chen's visit follows the fence-mending tour by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to China in January, a year after China suspended high-level military exchanges with the US over Washington's proposed multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Taiwan.

Chen will visit Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Fort Stewart in Georgia, Nellis Air Force Base and the US Army's National Training Center, Huang said, adding that the general is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the US National Defense University.

The ministry said earlier that Chen will meet Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

"This demonstrates the importance Admiral Mullen attaches to Chen's visit and the positive attitude the US has to developing relations between the two militaries," he added. "We appreciate that."

Beijing will send a high-ranking team of generals to accompany Chen.

According to Huang, members of the delegation include Political Commissar of the PLA Second Artillery Corps Zhang Haiyang, Deputy Commander of Guangzhou Military Area Command Zheng Qin, Commander of the East China Sea Fleet Su Zhiqian and Jinan Military Area Air Force Commander Zhang Jianping.

The delegation covers the four parts of the PLA - the army, navy, air force and the Second Artillery Corps.

Huang said high-ranking information and foreign affairs officials will be also involved in the delegation.

Gates visited the Second Artillery Corps, the command center of China's nuclear and missile arsenal, during his January trip.

Huang said Chen's visit will set the tone for military ties between the two nations in the upcoming decade by discussing a new type of China-US military relationship based on mutual respect, cooperation and mutual benefit.

"Mutual respect means we should respect each other's core interests and major concerns, while cooperation and mutual benefit stresses that we should gain tangible benefits for both sides through cooperation," Huang said.

Huang said the Chinese side will raise its concerns, including US arms sales to Taiwan, activity by US warships and military aircrafts near the Chinese coast and US laws that discriminate against China.

Meanwhile, the PLA military band will pay its first visit to the US starting on Friday.

"Music is the common language of mankind," said Li Shengquan, a publicity official with the PLA General Political Department, who will lead the military band delegation.

"It needs time to overcome obstacles in Sino-US relations, and we would like to use music to make a contribution to this process," he said.

Liu Lin, an expert on world military studies with the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, said Chen's visit highlights a growth in military exchanges between the two nations.

"The US side has asked to discuss issues related to space and cyber war. The team Chen will bring this time can be regarded as a response," she said.

Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist, said the arrangements show that Chen's visit will be a "practical one".

"We can feel the importance both sides attach to the visit," he said.

Li Zhuowei contributed to this story.


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