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US forces chief in Japan says China's military intent unclear

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 14, 2008
The United States' top military commander in Japan on Monday called for greater military transparency from China, saying the reasons for its rising defence spending remained unclear.

Transparency "is extremely important in terms of building trust, building confidence and preventing miscalculation and misunderstanding," said Commander Edward Rice Jr., who assumed the top post in February.

"Their (China's) ability to operate in space, their ability to operate in what we would call cyberspace, their ability to project power beyond their borders are increasing at a very significant and rapid rate," he said.

"These are all areas, certainly in the eyes of a military commander, we would like to have more information on in terms of their intent," he said at a press conference.

Japan, which is officially pacifist and relies on a security treaty with the US, has repeatedly voiced unease over China's military spending, which Beijing said last month would rise 17.6 percent this year.

Rice, who supervises more than 40,000 US troops stationed in Japan, said that the US military would continue bolstering a missile defence system in Japan to protect against a potential threat from North Korea.

"We, the United States, stand by our commitment to defend Japan," he said. "We are also working on the whole ballistic missile defence architecture very closely with the military forces of Japan."

He added the United States was continuing to improve its ability to respond to potential missile threats.

Japan and the United States started working on a more advanced shield after North Korea fired a missile over Japan's main island in 1998.

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US push for new security mechanism irks Southeast Asia
Washington (AFP) April 13, 2008
US-led moves to turn a forum grappling with the North Korean nuclear crisis into a permanent security mechanism are frustrating Southeast Asia's bid to become a key player in regional security, experts say.

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