Beijing: China’s defence ministry launched its first official website on Thursday, part of an effort by the normally secretive military to be more transparent.
The site’s launch including an English version comes as the US army’s top general visits Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterparts. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey will visit the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army on Thursday and meet PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde.
China has long been tightlipped about its military strength and capacity, drawing criticism from other countries wary of the Asian giant’s growing power and skyrocketing military spending. Beijing says it is modernizing is military, but for purely defensive purposes.
But in recent years, China has been increasing its international military ties. Earlier this year, Chinese warships were sent to patrol waters off Somalia as part of the international effort against piracy.
Defence minister Liang Guanglie said earlier this month the army would develop peacefully and increase cooperation with foreign armed forces to fulfill its international obligations.
A defence ministry spokesman last month said the military planned to establish more information offices nationwide and hold more news conferences.
The website includes sections on China’s defence policies and laws and news about military exercises, peacekeeping roles and international military exchanges.
A picture of President Hu Jintao, who is also chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, which controls the military, is prominent on the home page. Pictures and information on weapons and equipment are also displayed.
China’s military spending has jumped by double-digit percentages for nearly two decades. This year, Beijing announced a 14.9% rise in military spending to 480.68 billion yuan ($70.27 billion), though it was a smaller increase than previous years.
That spending puts it on par with Japan, Russia and Britain, but it is still dwarfed by the US, which spends nearly 10 times as much.