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Chinese military site to show off 'good image'

Newly launched Chinese Defense Ministry site, featuring English and Chinese versions, is aimed at assuaging international concern over a spurt in its military build-up.

China holds a medical support drill in remote northwestern Helan Mountains, simulating a strong earthquake and secondary disasters.

"We feel your pain" is one of the first messages on the newly inaugurated Chinese Defense Ministry's Web site aimed at assuaging international concern over a spurt in that country's military buildup.

"The aim of the Defense Ministry's Web site is to let the outside world know about China's defense policies...and show off the good image of the military's powerful, cultured and peaceful forces," explains an introductory message.

China's military, the world's largest, has recently increased its spending by almost 18 percent, far outpacing that of its neighbors, according to experts.

The official Web site, which kicked off this week, offers both Chinese and English versions. The purpose is to improve the outside world's perception of "China's national defense policy, help enhance foreign exchanges and cooperation, display before the world the fine image of the PLA as a mighty, civilized and peaceful force, and better promote the national defense and army modernization drive," according to the site.

The Web site presents a kinder, gentler face. One of the lead stories covers General Secretary of the Communist Central Committee Hu Jintao's meeting with a delegation of ethnic minorities from Taiwan, a country recently hit by its worst hurricane in half a century. The mainland shared "the same feeling" with the people of Taiwan people, Hu said. "Especially the ethnic minorities, who suffered serious life and property loss in the recent disaster."

Still, it's the Middle Kingdom. Troops from the Shenyang Military Area Command "created numerous miracles" during a recent joint exercise, reads another story.

The Web site will offer columns and special reports, including a collection of national defense videos, a military photo gallery, plus special reports on "domestic and international hot spots inside and outside the military circle."

The English version will accommodate the reading habits of "overseas netizens" by adjusting to the rules of "foreign publicity". All readers are invited to enjoy and "be impressed by its succinct and graceful webpage featuring novel and attractive design with distinctive military characteristics."

China wrote the book on propaganda, and although the new website can sound somewhat hokey at times, it's still a pleasure to watch the masters at work.