INTERNATIONAL

China for military dialogue

SINGAPORE, APRIL 24. China today pledged to "actively promote confidence-building cooperation in the military field'' in the Asian continent. To translate this new initiative into a ground reality, the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, said Beijing "is ready to set up a military-security dialogue mechanism''.

This `mechanism' could be constituted in respect of Beijing and "other Asian countries'', Mr. Hu said, while delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) at the place called Boao in China's southern province of Hainan. The BFA is widely regarded as a China-sponsored Asian version of the World Economic Forum at Davos. Although Mr. Hu did not mention the Asian countries that China would like to have a military-security dialogue with, regional diplomats were of the view that other major powers on the continent would be on Beijing's radar-screen for this confidence-building exercise. His offer acquired additional importance in the context of China's more recent efforts to project its profile as that of a "peaceful rise'' of an Asian power with a global role. The concept of China's "peaceful rise'' was articulated as a policy, for the first time, during last year's delayed BFA conference at the same venue.

At today's session, Mr. Hu outlined his new initiative as follows: "China will stick to its new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, and (Beijing) hopes to establish a security relationship (with other countries) featuring non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting at any third party.

China will step up its cooperation and dialogue with other Asian countries in such security areas as regional counter-terrorism, combating trans-national crimes, maritime security and non-proliferation''.

While China would "give full play to the existing multilateral security mechanisms'', it was willing to set up, on a parallel track, "a military-security dialogue mechanism'' involving other Asian countries, Mr. Hu emphasised.

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