The FINANCIAL — BEIJING, China and the United States are planning to resume dialogue on defense issues in February, a Chinese daily said on February 16, citing military sources in both countries.
Bilateral contacts in the military sphere were suspended in November 2008 following the former Bush administration's decision to sell $6.5 billion in weaponry to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of China.
The informal talks, which have been held annually since 1997, "will focus on the expansion of bilateral military cooperation and joint implementation of measures to address security concerns across the world, especially in East Asia," the China Daily newspaper cited a U.S. military official as saying.
The talks are scheduled for February 27-28, following the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as part of her first overseas tour since assuming the post in the Barack Obama administration in January.
"We look forward to further improved relations across the Taiwan Strait," Clinton said on February 13 while addressing a gathering of the Asia Society in New York ahead of her trip.
Experts believe that the resumption of the China-U.S. dialogue on defense issues became possible after ties between Beijing and Taipei had improved since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in Taiwan last year.
"Since the security situation across the Straits has taken a significant and positive turn, the two militaries can discuss more far-reaching issues, including non-traditional security," China Daily quoted Luo Yuan, a military expert with the Academy of Military Science, as saying.
The U.S. considers China not only as a rising international economic power, but also as a rising military power with new and developing capabilities that have global implications.
The 2008 China Military Power Report, released by the U.S. Congress, said that Beijing spent as much as $139 billion last year, more than three times its announced defense budget, modernizing its military forces.