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China never intends to challenge US: top general

US lawmaker blasts welcome for China military chief
Washington (AFP) May 18, 2011 - A top US lawmaker on Wednesday angrily condemned the Pentagon's red-carpet welcome for China's military chief, charging it was putting sensitive defense secrets at risk.

"The Chinese military openly regards the United States as an enemy," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehinen said in a statement on People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde's visit.

"There can be no doubt that every scrap of information this expert delegation collects will be used against us," she said.

Chen was to tour four military bases during his week-long visit -- the first trip to America by the country's top-ranking officer in seven years -- amid an effort by Washington to defuse tensions and mistrust with Bejing.

But Ros-Lehtinen warned "we should not undermine our own security by thinking we can make friends with self-proclaimed adversaries with hospitality and open arms."

"Congress must immediately review existing prohibitions against giving Chinese officials access to sensitive information, and determine if they need to be strengthened," she said.

Ros-Lehtinen said Chen's planned visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada was "especially troubling, given its key role in our defenses against cyberwarfare and other high-tech threats."

"China is actively engaged in cyber attacks against the US, including massive assaults on US government and civilian networks alike, especially those of the Department of Defense," she said.

"Congress must immediately review existing prohibitions against giving Chinese officials access to sensitive information, and determine if they need to be strengthened," said Ros-Lehtinen.

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 18, 2011
China "never intends to challenge the US" and welcomes its role maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region, People's Liberation Army Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde told US military officers Wednesday.

While the Chinese military has improved considerably in the past years, there is still a large gap between them and US military might, Chen told officers at the National Defense University in Washington.

China "never intends to challenge the US," Chen told the officers, speaking through an interpreter.

China "welcomes a constructive US role in maintaining and promoting peace stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Later, responding to a question, Chen said there still exists "a 20-year gap" between China's military and that of the western powers.

Chen earlier invited his counterpart, US Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, to visit China. "I hope he visits China as soon as possible," Chen said.

In his speech, Chen said it was important to increase "strategic mutual trust through enhanced dialogues and communication, instead of being prone to suspicion."

Both countries "share significant responsibilities for regional and global peace and stability," he said, then quoted President Barack Obama who said that the two countries are economically "inseparable."

The Chinese general also said it was "imperative" that military to military relations be "based on mutual respect and mutual benefit."

"The world does not need to worry about, let alone fear, China's growth," he said.

Chen is on the first trip to the United States by China's top-ranking officer in seven years.

The Chinese general said he had held talks with Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Military relations between the two economic powers have been strained and lagged behind diplomatic and trade ties, with Beijing objecting to US arms sales to Taiwan while Washington has voiced concern about China's military buildup.

The last US visit by a senior leader from the PLA was in 2009, when General Xu Caihou came to Washington and toured military bases.

When the US defense secretary paid a high-profile visit to Beijing in January, the Chinese military upstaged Gates with an inaugural test flight of the country's J-20 stealth fighter.

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