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China promises more military transparency

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 2, 2007
China said Sunday it will begin reporting its armed forces budget to the United Nations and rejoin a global register of conventional arms amid foreign pressure for greater military transparency.

China said the moves were meant to show the world its commitment to military transparency, at a time when its massive armed forces expansion is causing alarm bells to ring in Asia and further afield.

"The Chinese government has decided to report annually to the Secretary-General of the United Nations basic data of its military expenditures for the latest fiscal year," said a statement by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

"This is a significant step on the part of China in further enhancing its military transparency, which fully demonstrates that China is committed to improving mutual trust with other countries in the military field."

China will also resume providing data required under the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms starting from this year, the statement said.

The register is aimed at tracking transfers of arms worldwide. China quit the agreement in the late 1990s amid anger over US arms sales to Beijing's diplomatic rival Taiwan.

China, which already has the world's largest armed forces with 2.3 million men and women in uniform, has dramatically beefed up its military in recent years, causing jitters in Asia and the United States about Beijing's intent.

In March, the 2007 defence budget was raised a further 17.8 percent to 45 billion dollars.

The foreign worries spiked in January when China successfully destroyed a satellite in a new missile test, sparking fears of a race to weaponise space.

US Vice President Dick Cheney said afterward the test contradicted China's stated goal of a "peaceful rise."

The UN conventional weapons registry requires countries to report their holdings of major weapons such as tanks, combat aircraft and missile systems as well as international arms transfers, according to the UN's disarmament website.

China has been criticised for its foreign arms sales to pariah governments, with global human rights group Amnesty International saying in June that Beijing was selling a billion dollars a year in arms, fuelling violence in Sudan, Myanmar and elsewhere.

Jiang, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, defended China's arms sales, saying Beijing has always taken a "prudent and responsible attitude" to prevent them undermining stability.

But she added China would rejoin the arms register in the interest of world peace.

"China will continue to make joint efforts with the international community in promoting international peace and security," she said.

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US Senator Lugar Speaks For Extending START-I Treaty
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Aug 30, 2007
Russia and the U.S. should extend the START-I Treaty, which expires in 2009, or else negative consequences will result, U.S. senator Richard Lugar said Tuesday. "The United States and Russia must extend the START Treaty's verification and transparency elements, which will expire in 2009," Lugar told an arms control round table in Moscow.

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