Defense ministers vow to boost military links

Updated: 2013-04-04 11:42

By Xinhua and Agencies

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State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel vowed on Wednesday to advance military ties between their countries.

In a phone conversation, Chang, who congratulated Hagel on his appointment as Pentagon chief, said military relations are an important part of the overall bilateral relationship and that developing inter-military ties is not only the consensus between Chinese and US leaders, but also the common wishes of the two defense departments and armies.

China values its military ties with the United States, Chang said, and it is willing to work with Washington to address inter-military relations within the framework of building a cooperative China-US partnership, earnestly respecting each other’s core interests and dealing with each other’s grave concerns.

He expressed the hope that both sides will increase strategic mutual trust through dialogue and consultation, and deepen cooperation between militaries, so as to build a “military relationship of equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation”.

Hagel said China and the US have common interests, and that the two sides should join hands to advance intermilitary ties that are facing historic opportunities. He invited Chang to visit the US this year.

In another sign of improved military relations, top US military officer General Martin Dempsey will pay a rare visit to China this month, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Hagel confirmed Dempsey’s visit in his conversation with Chang.

Hagel “said he looks forward to hearing the results of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Marty Dempsey’s trip to China later this month,” Little said in a statement. 

The US and China hold frequent talks, but defense relations are less regular.

Dempsey’s predecessor, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited China in 2011 in what was the first trip by a US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in four years.

Meanwhile, new Chinese ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, arrived in Washington on Tuesday to assume office. He is the 10th Chinese ambassador to the US.

Cui served as vice-minister of foreign affairs from 2010 to 2013, and before that he was ambassador to Japan.

His predecessor, Zhang Yesui, completed his tenure and returned to China on Feb 24.