Onus on US to improve military ties
Updated: 2013-08-19 01:07
By ZHAO YANRONG (China Daily)
China must learn to 'face American influence' in the Asia-Pacific region
More military exchanges and better communication are important to the relationship between China and the United States, but Washington needs to change its strategy on constraining China in the Asia-Pacific to maintain good Sino-US military ties, experts said.
Their comments were made on Sunday after Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor Chang Wanquan left for the United States on Friday on his first trip since taking office in March.
"A new type of military relationship between China and the US is an important part of building a 'new type of big-country relationship', which was agreed on by President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, in June," said Ma Gang, a professor at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University.
"Minister Chang's visit to the US and his US counterpart visiting China in the future are meaningful and a good way to form new military ties, improve mutual understanding and ease confrontation between the two armies," Ma said.
Media reports said that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to pay a return visit to China in 2014.
Ma said that as the US adjusts its military influence in the Asia-Pacific region, China must learn how to face the challenge, to reach more agreements and build stronger mutual trust with the US.
Chang, leading the Chinese military delegation, visited the US Pacific Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command. He is scheduled to meet with Hagel, his US counterpart, at the Pentagon on Monday.
"The US Pacific Command and the US Northern Command play very important roles in the country's military, and they are also important for China's military strategy, especially the Pacific Command," Ma said.
The Chinese military delegation can have direct contact with those important US military commanders and can communicate with their US counterparts face to face, so the trip shows that the Chinese military has a strong desire to know the US military personnel and wants to build better military relations with the US, he added.
In the Chinese military delegation are other senior military officers, including Ding Yiping, the deputy commander of the PLA navy, and Wang Jiurong, the deputy commander of the PLA Second Artillery Force.
"That shows that the Chinese army has an open attitude and confidence to communicate with the US," Ma said.
On the other hand, the crucial factor on the US-China military ties is the US' China policy, said Shen Dingli, vice-dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Shanghai-based Fudan University.
"We should not expect the meeting between (Chang and Hagel) to fundamentally improve the two countries' military relations," he said.
"No matter how many times the two top defense officials meet each other, there won't be a dramatic change in the two armies' relationship as long as the US maintains its strategy of constraining China in the region."
Some US actions in the Asia-Pacific region threaten China's crucial national interests. For instance, the US selling arms to Taiwan is a provocation to China, Shen said.
"But more exchanges and communication between the two countries' militaries can enhance understanding of each other," he said.