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US Urges China Transparency on Military Buildup


The United States is calling on China to be more transparent on its military buildup. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte made the call in Beijing Sunday after Chinese officials announced they plan to boost their military spending by nearly 18 percent to $45 billion this year. VOA's Luis Ramirez has more from Beijing.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with Chinese officials as part of a three-nation Asian tour that began Friday in Japan. On the agenda have been discussions on ensuring that North Korea meets an upcoming deadline on declaring its nuclear activities as it agreed to do in negotiations last month.

Overshadowing Negroponte's stop in Beijing was China's announcement that it plans to boost its defense budget by 17.8 percent this year. The U.S. official voiced Washington's concern over what he said is China's lack of transparency as it upgrades its military.

"It is not so much the budget and the increases, as much as it is understanding those questions better through dialogue and transparency," he said.

Negroponte said more discussions are needed between Pentagon officials and Chinese military authorities.

"We would like to see those intensified so that we can have a better grasp of what exactly the Chinese have in mind," added Negroponte.

China has pointed hundreds of missiles at democratically ruled Taiwan, which the Communist government in Beijing claims as part of its territory. Washington has expressed concern over China's threats to reunite Taiwan by force if necessary.

China on Sunday warned the United States not to allow a deal to sell missiles to Taiwan, saying Washington should not signal support for those on the island who want formal independence.

Negroponte said the provision of defensive weapons to Taiwan is consistent with Washington's accords with China.

The Deputy Secretary of State later heads to South Korea, where discussions are expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear issue.