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Chinese official to visit West for high-tech arms

China wants to buy advanced weapons and military technology from the United States and other friendly countries as part of a drive to modernize its 3.2 million-strong armed forces, Defense Minister Zhang Aiping said Tuesday.

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Mr. Zhang told reporters before leaving on a month-long trip to France, the United States, Canada, and Japan that China had a policy of self-reliance and built its own weapons. But he said Peking recognized that the West had advanced weapons and technology that China could not match on its own.

Discussions with Washington involve early-warning radar and air defense systems, trucks, troop-carrying helicopters, and communications equipment. The purchase of some defensive weapons such as antitank missiles was also believed to have been under consideration.

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