BEIJING and Moscow have made new progress in arms co-operation, including procurement of Russian weapons and co-production of aircraft. The Chinese media recently played up improvement in ties with the Russian Army even as Chinese and American leaders were discussing the resumption of military exchanges. The national press yesterday reported the visit of a high-level Russian Air Force delegation headed by General Pyotr Deinekin. General Deinekin is the first chief of the Russian Air Force to have visited China. During talks with the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, General Liu Huaqing, and Chinese Air Force Chief, General Yu Zhenwu, both sides expressed satisfaction. 'It is a good thing for state and military leaders of both countries to have frequent visits,' General Liu was quoted as saying. Western diplomats said the generals discussed further military co-operation, including the Chinese purchase of Russian jet-fighters and air-defence systems. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) purchased two dozen-odd Su-27 fighters from the Russians in the early 1990s. The diplomats believe both sides have made progress towards co-production of the sophisticated aircraft on Chinese soil. In addition, the PLA is looking at newer models such as the Su-30 and Su-31. But the diplomats were unable to confirm reports that agreements had been reached in the sale of more than 10 Su-30s to China. The Taiwan press yesterday quoted unnamed Taiwan defence officials as saying Beijing had procured 24 more Su-27s and an unknown quantity of AA-10 air-to-air missiles from Moscow. The officials reportedly indicated they would be deployed on the coast as a warning to Taiwan. It is believed that Russian naval technicians have helped their Chinese counterparts overcome engineering problems in Chinese nuclear submarines. Both through official exchange programmes and privately, a large number of Russian arms expert are believed to have been employed by the PLA. The PLA has also been lobbying Washington to lift the embargo on defence-related technology to China. Meanwhile, the Taiwan press also reported France would deliver 550 anti-aircraft missiles to Taiwan in a deal that apparently did not violate a pledge to China to stop arms sales to Taipei.