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China's army chief to visit US in May: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 27, 2011
China's army chief of staff will visit the United States in May, state media confirmed on Tuesday, as the two countries try to bolster military relations despite their growing rivalry.

"I will visit the United States next month at the invitation of Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Chen Bingde, chief of staff at the People's Liberation Army, was quoted as saying by the state Xinhua news agency.

It did not give specific dates in May.

Chen told a visiting US Congress delegation: "I look forward to having an in-depth and candid discussion with US political and military leaders on bilateral military relations and other issues of common concern."

"The relations between our armed forces face good opportunities now," Chen was reported as saying.

However, he stressed that US arms sales to Taiwan accounted for the "largest obstacle" in bilateral military relations -- themselves a major point of friction in wider Sino-US ties.

Tensions soared early last year when China suspended high-level defence contacts with the United States over Washington's sale of more than $6 billion in arms to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its own territory.

Tentative plans for US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to visit were subsequently called off, but he finally came to China in January -- his first trip to Beijing since 2007.

US military leaders and China's neighbours are increasingly anxious about the People's Liberation Army's pursuit of sophisticated missiles, satellites, cyber-weapons and fighter jets.

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Washington (AFP) April 26, 2011
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