Boost to Sino-US military ties

Updated: 2014-04-09 08:11

By Zhao Xiaozhuo(China Daily)

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US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel started his four-day official visit to China on Monday in Qingdao, Shandong province, where he visited China's sole aircraft carrier, Liaoning, which showed Chinese military's sincerity in improving Sino-US military ties by further raising military transparency.

The US should also make more efforts to improve Sino-US military ties. Hagel's visit is the third by a US secretary of defense in a little more than three years - his predecessors Robert Gates and Leon Panetta visited China in January 2011 and September 2012 - indicating the importance Washington attaches to developing military ties with Beijing.

Last year, Beijing and Washington initiated efforts to build a "new type of major power relationship". During their summit at Sunnylands, California, in June 2013, President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama agreed to build a new type of major power relationship to prove that a rising power and an established power are not necessarily destined for confrontation. Based on this understanding, Sino-US military relations have started moving forward in three areas.

First is the frequent exchange of visits between high-ranking military officers. During Defense Minister Chang Wanquan's visit to the US in August last year, he and Hagel held in-depth talks and vowed to take forward the new type of major power relationship agreed by Xi and Obama. As part of the agreement between Chang and Hagel to exchange visits by senior military officers, US Chief of Staff of the Army Raymond Odierno visited Beijing in February, and the Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert is expected to visit China later this year.

Second, the two countries have held several joint exercises since last year. The Chinese Navy and the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy conducted a joint counter-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden in late August. On Sept 9, the two countries' navies dispatched four ships and three helicopters on a joint search and rescue mission in the waters off Hawaii, and on Nov 12-14, the two militaries held a joint humanitarian aid and disaster relief exercise in Hawaii, the first time that Chinese military landed on US territory to conduct a joint drill.

In February this year, the Chinese military for the first time took part in the annual multilateral exercise, Cobra Gold, co-hosted by the US and Thailand. The Chinese military has also accepted the Pentagon's invitation to participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise this summer.

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