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Chinese Military Buildup Poses No Threat

The Chinese B611 missile launcher.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 16, 2007
China's military expansion poses no threat to other countries and is aimed purely at reinforcing the country's capability to defend its own far-flung borders, Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday.

"The limited armed forces China has are completely for the purpose of safeguarding the country's security, independence and sovereignty," Wen said when asked if China's military growth contradicted its stated peaceful aims.

"On this matter we are completely transparent."

Speaking at his traditional press conference after the close of the annual session of parliament, Wen also dismissed overseas concerns triggered by China's destruction in January of an orbiting satellite in a missile test.

"By conducting this test, China does not target any country, it threatens no country and has not violated any international treaties," Wen said.

He insisted China was committed to the peaceful use of outer space and called for the signing of an international agreement on the issue.

"We call on the countries concerned to sign an international convention on the peaceful use of outer space at an early date," he said.

At the start of the parliamentary session, China fuelled overseas concerns by announcing that military spending, which has grown dramatically in recent years, would rise another 17.8 percent in 2007 to about 45 billion dollars.

The United States and Japan have been among the most vocal in expressing concerns about China's escalating military budget.

But Wen said China's per capita military expenditures remained far below those of developed nations and even some fellow developing countries.

Chinese military officials and outside analysts have said Beijing is beefing up its armed forces in part to be able to take back Taiwan by force if necessary.

China and Taiwan have been separated since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and bridles at the pro-independence sentiment of its current president, Chen Shui-bian.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Germany Fears US Anti-Missile Shield Could Fuel 'New Arms Race'
Berlin (AFP) March 17, 2007
Germany's foreign minister said Saturday that the project to create a U.S. anti-missile shield could lead to a new arms race in Europe. Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the comments in an editorial to be published Sunday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper. "Our biggest priority remains disarmament, and not re-armament," he said. "We do not want a new arms race in Europe." He called on the Russian and U.S. governments to avoid the "old reflexes" of the Cold War, and said Europe and NATO should remain united in the debate on the anti-missile shield.

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