|Subject: China, East Timor to boost
Agence France Presse July 2, 2002
China, East Timor to boost military ties
China supports the building of an East Timor army and will work toward friendly ties with it, state media quoted China's defense minister saying Tuesday.
Minister Chi Haotian noted during a meeting with the visiting military chief of newly-independent East Timor, Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak, that East Timor's armed forces face challenges as their country is born, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Chi said China will give what support it can to help overcome the challenges, and develop relations between the two countries' armed forces, Xinhua said.
Ruak reaffirmed East Timor's support for China's one-China policy, under which the mainland considers Taiwan a part of China.
He said China has rendered great help to the reconstruction of East Timor. His trip is aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries and their armed forces, said Xinhua.
Ruak also met with Fu Quanyou, chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), who echoed Chi's views.
"We hope to see the armed forces of East Timor playing a role in safeguarding the nation's security and regional peace," Fu said.
Ruak is accompanied by the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force, Thailand's Winai Patiakul, during the nine-day visit, said an official at the prime minister's office on condition of anonymity.
He will travel on to Thailand on July 9 for a four-day visit. On July 13 he will visit Indonesia's Bali island, where he will hold talks with regional military commander Major General Willem da Costa.
He will return to East Timor on July 16.
East Timor's army, currently 650-strong, was largely recruited from the ranks of Falintil, the guerrilla force which once battled Indonesian occupation.
The force is due to grow over three years to reach 1,500 regulars and 1,500 reservists.
East Timor officially proclaimed independence on May 20 after being administered by the UN for more than two years. The former Portuguese colony voted in August 1999 to end 24 years of Indonesian rule.
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