Military Hot Line: China, Russia Top Officials Pledge Closer Ties

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BEIJING — Top brass from the Chinese and Russian armies hailed closer ties in their first-ever conversation Monday over a newly installed military hot line, state media reported Monday.

China's People's Liberation Army chief Chen Bingde called the hot line a sign of pragmatic cooperation and growing political trust, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Chen's Russian counterpart, Nikolay Makarov, said the link would promote regular communication on military matters. Discussions also touched on bilateral issues and those involving the region and world, Xinhua said, without giving details.

The link officially opened March 14, and it wasn't clear why it had not been inaugurated before.

Russia-China military links have moved beyond arms sales in recent years to incorporate joint anti-terrorism drills and border protection exercises. Much of that progress has come within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a loose alliance of Central Asian states dominated by Beijing and Moscow.

In contrast, military-to-miliary ties between Beijing and Washington have hit a recent low following China's reported suspension of some senior-level visits and other planned exchanges, announced earlier this month to the Pentagon but not publicly confirmed by Chinese officials.

An agreement was announced for a hot line between the Pentagon and China's Defense Ministry in Beijing, but progress on setting it up appears to have stalled.