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Warm welcome awaits Mullen

Updated: 2011-07-08 11:18

By Li Xiaokun and Li Lianxing (China Daily)

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 Warm welcome awaits Mullen

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun gives details of Admiral Mike Mullen's China visit at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. Zou Hong / China Daily

China 'attaches great importance' to top military officer's visit

BEIJING - Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen will receive a warm and high-level welcome when he starts his visit to China on Sunday, with his Chinese counterpart taking care of the arrangements in person.

"Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chen Bingde has examined and approved the schedule and arrangements for the visit in person, and called Admiral Mullen to discuss them," Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said on Thursday at a news conference on the visit.

"China attaches great importance to the visit," he said.

Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leading a 39-member delegation, will stay in China for four days. He will spend the first two days in Beijing and then visit military units in Shandong and Zhejiang provinces, Yang said.

Chen will host a welcoming ceremony and banquets for Mullen, and the two generals will attend a joint news conference after their official meeting.

Aside from meeting high-level government and military leaders, Mullen will also visit units covering every part of the Chinese military including the army, navy, air force and the PLA Second Artillery Force, a strategic missile force that controls the country's nuclear weapons, Yang said.

"These arrangements reflect the positive attitude and sincerity of the Chinese side to develop bilateral military ties," he said.

"The meeting of the two military leaders will give a very important boost to ties between the two militaries."

The visit comes after the United States and the Philippines held an 11-day joint naval exercise amid a simmering maritime row over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Yang did not confirm whether the issue will be discussed during the meeting. "But if the US side raises it (the South China Sea issue), we will express our concerns."

He dismissed the possibilities of Mullen flying to Southeast Asian nations after his China visit.

Mullen's visit follows Chen's US tour in May.

"We believe regular meetings between leaders of the two militaries ... will contribute to boosting mutual understanding and trust," Yang said.

This is Mullen's first visit to China in his current position. His last visit to China was in 2007 when he was US chief of naval operations.

"Frequent visits of high-level officials, along with China's increasing confidence, imply a more transparent and practical military relationship between China and the US," said Zhao Weibin, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science under the PLA.

Mullen's visit offers an opportunity for the two sides to exchange views on regional issues such as the South China Sea, according to Zhao. "The US has claimed interests in the area, so it is impossible for it to treat this issue justly," she added.

"So this visit will give a platform to both China and the US to show their stances, concerns and bottom lines."

China Daily

(China Daily 07/08/2011 page1)


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