Militaries' cooperation 'key' in ties

Updated: 2015-03-05 11:42

By Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

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Militaries' cooperation 'key' in ties

Vincent Brooks, commanding general of US Army Pacific at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. [Photo by Sheng Yang/ For China Daily]

More China-US military exchanges are expected to prevent miscalculation and misunderstanding, said a Pentagon Army general on Wednesday.

"We have to take a step closer and seek a sufficiently sustained dialogue that leads to trust, this has to be part of the foundation of our national obligations and military engagements," said Vincent Brooks, Commanding General of US Army Pacific at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Head of the Army service component of the United States Pacific Command, Brooks said the more the US engages in "human-to-human senior levels and lower technical levels", the better the dialogue and the less likely the miscalculation will be.

The Army is "not a direct party" to the regional cooperation, but "an additional channel of communication", said Brooks, who attended the 10th Disaster Management Exchange in Haikou in South China's Hainan Island, this January.

Sponsored by US Army Pacific and hosted by China's People's Liberation Army, the exchange included participants from the Hawaii Army National Guard, the US Marine Corps, the US Air Force and the State Department.

As one of the most substantive of US military engagement activities with China, the China-US humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exchange included an expert academic discussion, a tabletop exchange and a practical field exchange, according to an official report from the US Army.

Brooks said the US is seeking "coalition" and exchange, especially in "army civil affairs, army engineers and army combat forces" to build "a sense of understanding and cooperation".

"There is a common language among soldiers anywhere in the world," he said. "And second is the foundational trust relationships, the people-to-people engagement, which is so important in public diplomacy and international diplomacy."

Both sides are in discussions about "mid-career level of exchanges", where people who are "in the 10, to 15 or 20 years of experience" participate, he said.

He also said the US will continue to receive PLA visitors to the US Army Pacific at several levels to form a substantial relations, noting that the US has "always invited the PLA in the last two years" to the Pacific Armies Chiefs' Conference and has seen "much better participation".

The conference was part of the thirty-eighth Pacific Armies Management Seminar last September in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and will be held this year in Indonesia.

It is a multinational military seminar that provides a forum for top brass from the Asia Pacific's regional ground forces to exchange views and ideas.

"We look forward to more of those types of opportunities for dialogue and discourse as well, it's important to the region to know there is a relationship between the United States and China, including a military-to-military relationship," he said.

During President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing last November, two new military agreements were reached to avert military confrontations in Asia, one on notifying each other of major activities, such as military exercises, and the other on rules of behavior for encounters both at sea and in the air.

Wang Honggang, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations was reserved about China-US military exchanges.

"Given the current strategic distrust and differences in security interests between China and the United States, the possibility of 'polarization' cannot be excluded, especially as China's military strength grows and the media make a point of focusing on it," he said.

Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story.