Recent high-level military meetings between China and the US have underscored the evolution of China's military and its changing relationship with the international community, especially the United States.
And to embrace this new evolution, China's defense ministry's new website, launched last month (http://eng.mod.gov.cn), features an unprecedented amount of public information and content about the country's armed forces. The new site, which is in both Mandarin and English, went online just days after the Pentagon unveiled its revamped Web presence, Defense.gov.
The US and Chinese military sites bear a lot of similarities. Both contain news releases, explanations of defense policies, and profiles of their respective leaderships. They also feature institutional histories and time lines, as well as audio and video of personnel in action.
But the main difference between the two sites is in how each approaches their respective audiences. The front page of the US site features prominent links - telling viewers "we want to hear from you" and "connect with us". It encourages visitors to be interactive, asking questions for the US secretary of defense to answer and voting on which defense policy issues they find most important.
Pentagon officials say their new site is also more streamlined, intuitive and user-friendly than earlier versions, especially for younger members of its audience. It contains live blogs, social networking sites, and links to YouTube and Twitter, among other features.
Price Floyd, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said that while he's been unable to access the new Chinese Defense Ministry site, from what he has read, he believes the Chinese and US sites have a lot in common. He quoted a recent notice about the Defense Ministry website's launch, with its intent to "improve cooperation with foreigners" and "display before the world the fine image of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as a mighty, civilized and peaceful force".
Floyd said the US welcomes the new efforts by the PLA and the Chinese government to bring greater transparency to China's armed forces. He added that the new Defense Ministry website has the potential to improve government-to-government communications.