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Military exchanges with US still suspended: China

A file photo.

TIANJIN (AP): Military exchanges between China and the United States are still suspended, a People's Liberation Army spokesman has said, despite a recent warming of relations between the countries.

China cut military ties with the United States earlier this year after the Obama administration said it would go ahead with a planned sale of USD 6.4 billion in military hardware to Taiwan.

The sale of helicopters, missiles and other weapons came before President Barack Obama had a White House meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing accuses of trying to separate Tibet from China. The countries have also tangled this year over trade disputes and cyberspying accusations from Google Inc.

Hard-liners in the Chinese military argued for punishing the US by withholding cooperation on issues such as Iran and climate change.

Military exchanges with the United States are "still suspended," said Xin Guo, a Bejiing-based foreign affairs official from the PLA Air Force.

Xin spoke while accompanying a group of journalists to an air force base near the northern commerical port of Tianjin.

The media, along with about 51 military attaches from embassies in Beijing -including the United States, Britain and Israel -witnessed a 15-minute demonstration of China's domestically developed J-10 fighters by four pilots.

Chinese military officials called it the first such event for the media and attaches and said more will follow to show off China's army and navy as well.

"Today's a good beginning ... We will provide more opportunities for the outside world to know about the Chinese armed forces," defense ministry spokesman Huang Xueping told a briefing after the demonstration on Tuesday.

Attaches said they were impressed by the performance and encouraged by the military's efforts at more openness. "You can see the change little by little every year," said Engler-Sher Yossef, Israel's defense attache in Beijing. "In two weeks there is a PLA navy briefing, too."

Despite strong talk from China after the Taiwan arms sale announcement, ties have improved with the United States and President Hu Jintao took part in an international nuclear security summit in Washington, where the White House says China agreed to work with the United States on possible tougher sanctions against Iran.

Hu also held a bilateral meeting with Obama. Washington also plans to play host to Hu again in the fall with all the pomp of a state visit.

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