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China defence ministry launches website

world Updated: Aug 20, 2009 12:20 IST

China's defence ministry on Thursday launched its first website, which includes an English version, as part of a charm offensive aimed at countering foreign fears about the military's transparency.

The site, www.mod.gov.cn, includes news reports, official photos and videos, facts and figures about the military, and explanations of the country's national defence policies. China's Great Wall features in the logo.

The ministry said in a statement that the website, launched on a "trial" basis, was designed to "let the outside world have a better perception of China's national defence policy" and promote the army's modernisation drive.

China has roughly doubled its military budget since 2006, according to official government figures that some overseas analysts say vastly downplay what Beijing actually spends.

The build-up has prompted concern overseas about China's military ambitions and transparency, but authorities in Beijing have undertaken in recent months to counter those worries.

Last year, the defence ministry appointed its first-ever spokesman. And last month, foreign journalists were invited for a rare tour of a People's Liberation Army base north of Beijing.

China has the world's largest standing army, at 2.3 million soldiers.

The Pentagon in recent years has raised concerns about China's development of cruise and ballistic missiles, its 2007 test of a satellite-striking weapon, an apparent rise in cyber-espionage by China's military and other issues.

As concerns have mounted over why Beijing needs a high-tech military, the government here has increasingly stressed the need for counter-terrorism forces.