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China Calls on Obama to Promote Stronger Military Ties

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take his post, the Chinese Ministry of Defense calls on him to improve military relations. China also releases a 2008 military budget that indicates an 18 percent increase in spending.

Defense ministry spokesman Hu Changming is calling on incoming President Obama to "remove obstacles to exchanges" between the two countries, including a halt of weapons sales to Taiwan.

Hu spoke to reporters, Tuesday, during the release of a military policy paper "China's National Defense in 2008."

Hu says China hopes to build a stronger military relationship with the United States.

Hu cites forces for independence in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang as top security concerns for China, as well as the global economic crisis.

The paper did not announce new spending figures for China's 2.3 million-person armed forces. The $59 billion military budget from 2008 represented an 18 percent increase from 2007.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, reiterated that China opposes American sale of weapons to Taiwan. She told reporters Tuesday afternoon that China feels the United States must abide by three joint communiqués - particularly the principles of the communique to stop sale of weapons to Taiwan.

Defense sales to Taiwan have been a source of contention between the United States and China since the countries established relations, 30 years ago. Just last October, China suspended senior-level visits and exchanges after the United States refused to cancel a $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including Patriot missiles and helicopters