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US admiral: Engage with China militarily
Updated: 2006-03-08 09:59

WASHINGTON - The commander of US forces in the Pacific called for increased military engagement with China despite concerns over Beijing's continuing increases in military spending.

US admiral: Engage with China militarily
Admiral William Fallon, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, seen here in 2005, called for increased military engagement with China. [AFP]
Admiral William Fallon told the Senate Armed Services Committee that US-Chinese military competition was not a foregone conclusion.

"There is a tremendous potential for good here in this relationship between the two countries," he said. "We have many, many common interests."

China announced over the weekend that its military budget will increase by 14.7 percent this year to US$35 billion.

Fallon said the continuing increases in Chinese military spending as well as its lack of transparency were sources of concern.

"Of course, we're going to have to be cautious and careful, because there are still activities ongoing with the Chinese which makes it challenging for us to engage with this country," he said.

But he said US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to a significant increase in US-Chinese military interchanges this year.

"I think we need to press on this area, because the absence of any engagement whatsoever would put us back where we were in the past couple of years where we have virtually gone on a parallel pass with no interaction," he said.

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