Admiral: US open to military studying in China

Associated Press
A Singapore naval officer stretches by a Submarine Rescue Vehicle on board the MV Swift Rescue, a private submarine rescue vessel contracted to the Republic of Singapore Navy on Thursday May 19, 2011 in Singapore during the International Maritime Defense Show.(AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

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The U.S. military would consider sending officers and cadets to China on study exchange programs if relations between the two countries improve, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Thursday.

Washington is seeking to improve its relationship with the Chinese military, and an officer exchange program would provide a better understanding of Chinese culture, goals and thoughts, Adm. Patrick Walsh said.

"There's a strong effort here to improve the relationship," Walsh told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a global naval conference in Singapore.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been in talks to help restore military-to-military relations. Early last year, China angrily cut off most of those contacts after the United States announced a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the self-governing island that China considers a renegade province.

China has also expressed a desire for warmer military ties, most recently when the chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, Gen. Chen Bingde, visited Washington this week.

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