Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed his support for ``a dialogue on strategic matters'' between the U.S. and China, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
Speaking with reporters after meeting with Hu in Beijing today, Gates said his two-day visit had advanced the process of cooperation between the two nations' militaries.
``I hope what comes out of it is an ongoing dialogue'' on strategic issues, threat perceptions and curbing nuclear proliferation,'' Gates said.
China's 2007 defense budget soared by a record 17.8 percent to 350 billion yuan ($47 billion), the world's third largest, raising concern among some U.S. officials that it's seeking to change the military balance of power in Asia. China is also accelerating a diplomatic and economic ``soft power'' offensive throughout the developing world, especially in Africa and Latin America.
``The frequent exchanges between Chinese and U.S. leaders show that Sino-U.S. relations are on a strong footing,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said today at a press conference in Beijing. ``We need to approach the long-term relations between our nations with strategy and mutual respect, resolving the occasional sensitive issues that hinder ties.''
Hu expressed his concern about moves by Taiwan's leaders that China interprets as steps toward ``de jure independence,'' Gates said. He reiterated U.S. opposition to any moves to change the status quo on Taiwan.
Gates now goes to Seoul, where he said he will confer with South Korean leaders ``to mark the progress'' of the U.S. alliance with that country. ( Bloomberg )