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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 04:24 GMT
US welcomes Chinese-Asean links

Chinese soldiers
The US wants China to be more open about military spending
The US has welcomed China's request for closer military links with its South East Asian neighbours.

"Such military-to-military dialogue and engagement can increase transparency and promote stability," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

He was responding to remarks made by Chinese PM Wen Jiabao, who told leaders from Asean nations that Beijing wanted to increase military co-operation.

The US has often asked China to be more open about its military plans.

'Expanding dialogue'

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made his comments on Monday, at a one-day summit with leaders of the 10-member Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) grouping in Beijing.

"We should expand military dialogue and exchanges [and] conduct and institutionalise defence co-operation," Mr Wen said in a speech to delegates.

Later in the day, Mr McCormack said that "although Asean itself is not a security organisation, engaging other countries and other militaries in the region on security issues can be a positive step, so long as it is done in an open and non-exclusionary manner".

Washington also repeated its hope that Beijing would become more transparent about its military strategy, doctrine and budget.

The US has repeatedly accused China of understating its defence spending, and has issued several warnings about China's growing military might.

The Chinese have responded to such accusations by saying that they pose no threat, and accusing the US of seeking excuses to sell weapons to Taiwan.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has vowed to invade if it moves towards declaring formal independence.

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