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China criticises new US defence policy
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 9, 2012

Beijing said Monday that a new US defence strategy focused on countering China's rising power was based on "groundless" charges, and insisted it posed no threat to any nation.

President Barack Obama unveiled the strategy Thursday, calling for a leaner US military focused on countering China's rising power and signalling a shift away from large ground wars against insurgents.

But China, whose People's Liberation Army has benefited from a huge and expanding budget boosted by the nation's rapid economic growth, said the fears were baseless, urging the United States to "play a more constructive role".

"The charges against China in this document are groundless and untrustworthy," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in response to a question from state media about whether China poses a threat to US security.

Liu was referring to the strategy document released last week, which said the growth of China's military power "must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region".

"To maintain the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region serves the common interest of all countries within the region," he added. "We hope the US side will play a more constructive role to this end."

Washington's focus on Asia is fuelled by concerns over China's growing navy and its arsenal of anti-ship missiles that could jeopardise US military dominance in the Pacific.

China's responses to recent US moves to boost its military presence in Asia -- including the deployment of up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia -- have so far been restrained.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Friday it welcomed a bigger US presence in Asia as "conducive to regional stability and prosperity", while urging it against "warmongering".

China "adheres to the path of peaceful development, upholds an independent foreign policy of peace and a defence policy that is defensive in nature," said Liu.

"Our national defence modernisation serves the objective requirements of national security and development and also plays an active role in maintaining regional peace and security. It will not pose any threat to any country."

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US weighs reducing troops in Europe: official
Washington (AFP) Jan 9, 2012 - The Pentagon is looking at halving the number of US combat troops stationed in Europe as part of a new military strategy unveiled last week, a senior defense official said Monday.

No official decision has been taken on the issue and the final outcome depends on the next defense budget due to be released on February 6, said Julianne Smith, principal director for European and NATO policy.

"There are four brigade combat teams (BCTs) based in Europe but a significant portion of those has been deployed elsewhere," Smith told reporters.

"More or less for the last 10 years, we've had two of the BCTs in Afghanistan. So the question is where do they return to," she said.

Defense officials have for years debated how many troops to keep in Europe and former president George W. Bush's administration had planned to reduce the number of combat forces from four brigades to two.

Each Army combat brigade team has about 3,500 troops.

The US military has nearly 81,000 service members in Europe, including 43,000 Army personnel and 31,000 from the Air Force, according to Pentagon estimates in September last year.

Defense officials have said at least one brigade likely will be eliminated in Europe.

President Barack Obama last week presented a revised military strategy designed to shape future defense spending amid fiscal pressures. The strategy called for increasing the US military's presence in Asia while signalling a likely reduction in American forces in Europe.


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White House rivals Romney, Huntsman, clash on China
Goffstown, New Hampshire (AFP) Jan 7, 2012
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday turned rival Jon Huntsman's service as US ambassador to China against him Saturday - and drew a rare rebuke in Mandarin in response. The unusual - and unusually sharp - clash came during a prime-time debate among the candidates to be the party's standard-bearer to take on President Barack Obama in the November 6 elections. After ... read more

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