Sino-US military ties get a boost, general says
Updated: 2014-05-18 02:42
By Chen Weihua in Washington and Wang Linyan in New York (China Daily)
The consensus on developing a new type of China-US military relationship is the "biggest gain" of the latest visit to the US by General Fang Fenghui, chief of the General Staff of China's People's Liberation Army, a senior military official said on Friday in New York.
"Both sides have expressed willingness to promote bilateral military relations to a new type of military relationship," said Guan Youfei, chief of the Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, at a news conference held at the Chinese consulate in New York, speaking of meetings with officials last week, including Fang's US counterpart, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"General Dempsey said now is the best time to develop bilateral military relations," Guan said, adding that the idea fits within the framework of a new type of major country relationship, a consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama during their summit in Sunnylands, California, last June.
Fang visited the US Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and met Henry Kissinger in New York on Friday, winding up his five-day visit to the US.
Vice-President Joe Biden affirmed the importance of moving forward in developing US-China military-to-military relations when he met with Fang on Thursday afternoon at the White House, according to a White House press release.
According to Guan, Biden said that improving military relations benefits both countries, as well as the whole world.
China would like to maintain a relationship featuring the principles of "respect, mutual trust, cooperation and stability", Guan said.
"Respect" means respecting each other's core interests and major concerns, Guan explained, while "mutual trust" means having more communications to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation. "Cooperation" is increasing positives in military-to-military relations in the spirit of mutual benefit and reciprocity. "Stability" requires both sides to properly handle differences to avoid accidents.
Guan said the two sides have common and different understandings of the term of "new type of military relations".
"The US side emphasized mutual trust, cooperation and avoidance of miscalculation, which is close to China's stance," Guan said. "Meanwhile, they proposed continuation and transparency, which is different from us."
Guan said it's "quite normal" to have a different understandings on what a new type of relationship is about as they look for common ground.
Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the most important thing for Sino-US relations is that the political leadership maintains control of overall relations, including the strategic relations between the two sides and the two militaries.
"In the last two years the bilateral military relations have gained a lot of momentum," Wu said.
Last week China and US agreed to hold substantive consultations at the earliest possible date on setting up a mechanism for notification of major military actions, as well as the standards of behavior on the high seas, and upgrading the hotline between the military heads into a secure video-conferencing system.
Soon after he arrived on Tuesday, Fang toured the bridge of littoral combat ship USS Coronado in San Diego, California, visited the US Third Fleet and met Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, who escorted him on a tour of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan before Fang visited the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
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