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Report Emphasizes Multilateral Cooperation As Part of China's Defense Strategy - 2002-12-09

China has issued a new defense document outlining a military strategy based on multilateral cooperation, fighting terrorism and plans to spend more to upgrade armed forces technology. The report emphasized a tough stance on the issue of Taiwan's independence and U.S. weapons sales to the island.

The document is called "China's National Defense in 2002" and it stresses that its defense needs can best be met by cooperation with other nations based on mutual security.

China's multilateral approach is not new and has usually been aimed at countering what it sees as U.S. strategic dominance in the post-Cold War era. However, the latest defense paper talks about the need for cooperation with the United States and other countries in the fight against the global terrorist threat.

At the same time, China's policymakers called for nations to address the causes of terrorism and weapons proliferation by changing what they call an unfair world order and inequitable economic system.

The report blames independence-minded people and officials on Taiwan and their foreign supporters for tensions between China and the democratic island. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province that should return to central government control, by force if necessary. But advanced weapons sold to Taiwan by the United States have helped block China's efforts to re-take the island for half a century.

China maintains one of the world's largest militaries, but has been cutting its troop strength as it buys billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons from Russia, including ships, fighters, submarines and other weapons systems.

Experts say the steady modernization of China's once-ponderous forces is a step toward creating a smaller, more agile force that can fight effectively on the very deadly high-tech modern battlefield.

This is the first defense report issued since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed thousands of people in the United States. Those attacks prompted officials in Washington and Beijing to say they face greater threats from terrorists and unconventional attacks than they do from each other.