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China denies military exercise aimed at U.S.

July 2, 2010

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Paul Tait
Reuters
June 29, 2010

BEIJING -- China denied on Tuesday media reports
that an artillery drill in the East China Sea was
in response to a planned military exercise
between South Korea and the United States.

The 6-day, live ammunition exercise starting on
Wednesday in the East China Sea off China's coast
was seen by some analysts as a "response to a
(planned) joint exercise between the United
States and Republic of Korea navies in the Yellow
Sea," said the China Daily, the country's official English-language newspaper.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang,
said there was no such link and a Chinese
military officer said the timing was coincidental.

"This is a regular military exercise," the
spokesman Qin told a regular news conference.
"This is not related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula."

Li Daguang, a professor at China's National
Defense University and a People's Liberation Army
(PLA) officer, said the exercise was "not aimed
at the U.S.-South Korea joint exercise."

"The PLA artillery exercise in the East China Sea
and the joint U.S.-South Korea exercise in the
Yellow Sea are a complete coincidence," Li told
the Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong newspaper under mainland control.

"The outside world shouldn't read anything into this."

The Yellow Sea lies to the north of the East
China Sea and the areas of the two exercises would not overlap.

China's Foreign Ministry said last week it was
concerned about reports a U.S. aircraft carrier
may join the anti-submarine exercise with South
Korea following a standoff with North Korea over
the sinking of a warship from the South.

"Though the Chinese government did not say
anything about the drill, anybody with common
sense on military strategy will bet that they are
related," one expert on China-U.S. relations, Shi
Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing, told the China Daily.

The joint exercise that had been expected this
month will most likely take place in July,
although a date has yet to be set, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Washington has not said officially whether an
aircraft carrier would participate, as some news
reports citing Pentagon sources have suggested.

Beijing has been angered by U.S. navy ships
engaging in surveillance in waters close to China's southern coast.

Earlier this year, Beijing curtailed contacts
with the Pentagon over continued U.S. arms sales
to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims as its own territory.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this
month China's decision to break off
military-to-military contacts could undercut regional stability.

Gates said the PLA was the main obstruction in
the way of improved relations and suggested its
position was at odds with that of the country's political leadership.
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