FEBRUARY 24 2012 07:29h

China to work with U.S. on military links

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BEIJING, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- China's Defense Ministry, stressing a need for peace in the Asia-Pacific region, said it is ready to advance military-to-military links with the United States.

China has always placed importance on expanding such links, although ties between Beijing and Washington still face certain difficulties, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"We are ready to work with the (United States) by observing the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefit, to respect and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns, properly handle differences and controversial issues, cultivate strategic mutual trust and push forward China-U.S. military links in a healthy and stable way," Geng said.

The comment comes as the United States has placed a new strategy emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, as concerns grow about China's military buildup and its stand in the resource-rich South China Sea over the claims of some its neighbors.

Geng said during his U.S. visit last week, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, tipped to become the country's next leader, discussed bilateral and military-to-military ties.

The spokesman, commenting on U.S. military drills in the Asia-Pacific region, said peace and stability is in the common interest of countries in the region.

In an interview this week on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said he thinks the strategy shift "is more opportunity than liability to improve our relationship with China and I am personally committed to having that as the outcome rather than get into an arms race or into some kind of confrontation with China."

Reporting on the Dempsey interview, Xinhua said the Obama administration's "Pivot to Asia" strategy has aroused widespread suspicion it is aimed at containing the rise of China, whose influence in the Asia-Pacific region has been rapidly increasing to counterbalance the U.S. dominance.

Geng said the visits of Chinese Navy to the west Pacific, which some reports have said are preparation against Taiwan, are only "routine arrangements" not directed at any specific targets, Xinhua reported.

Geng said China will not develop its military strength beyond national security needs and will not conduct an arms race with any country.