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China, U.S. hold annual defense talks

Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:21 AM

BEIJING, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- China and the United States held their annual defense talks Wednesday as Beijing officials noted a growing U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two sides met in the Chinese capital for talks intended to control risks and avoid misjudgment between the powers. It was the first such meeting since the United States announced its $5.85 billion arms sales to Taiwan, a move strenuously opposed by China.

Chinese experts told China Daily Beijing was also likely to bring up U.S. plans to base about 2,500 Marines in Australia -- announced by U.S. President Barack Obama last month during his visit to Australia. The president said the Marines would be based in the northern Australian port of Darwin beginning in 2012.

Obama had stressed America's determination to play its leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region as its foreign policy pivots to the region.

China's military expansion in the region is also causing concerns among Asian-Pacific nations.

"The United States has always asked China to be transparent about its strategy. It is the United States who should make its intentions clear," Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan of the People's Liberation Army's military science academy told China Daily.

The report said the general was also referring to frequent U.S. military activities around China this year, including joint military exercises with countries having territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

"Australia is just a pawn in this arrangement, while the United States is really controlling the situation behind the scenes," said Liu Qing, director of the department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies. "China is closely following these events, and the United States should explain them to the Chinese side."

"The fact that the consultations took place as scheduled shows that both countries are being sincere about maintaining military exchanges," China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the PLA's general staff, as saying.

"Like you, we place great value on this meeting," Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy, leader of the U.S. delegation, was quoted as saying.

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