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Chinese, U.S. Defense Officials Meet In Beijing

Chinese and U.S. defense officials have met in Beijing for their highest-level contacts since tensions between the sides increased over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and plans to strengthen the American military presence in the Pacific.

The U.S.-China Defense Consultative Talks brought together Chinese General Ma Xiaotian and U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

Ma, the People's Liberation Army's deputy chief of staff, said the holding of the talks shows that the two sides are committed to improving relations.

The talks are the first between U.S. and Chinese defense officials since the U.S. approved a $5.85 package of arms sales to Taiwan in September.

China regards the island as a renegade province that must eventually be "reunified" under Beijing's rule by force if negotiations fail.

Adding to tensions, China's military last week denounced the United States and Australia for upgrading their military ties, amid concerns on the Chinese side that the United States may be pursuing a policy of containing China in the Pacific region.

compiled from agency reports