Defense chief's US visit signals consensus amid frictions

By Guo Yuandan and Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/8 22:43:40

Despite frictions, bilateral military ties remain stable: analysts

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum that opened on October 25. Photo: Chen Ping/GT


The Chinese defense minister's visit to the US is aimed at enhancing communication amid trade friction and maintaining stability of bilateral military ties, Chinese analysts said on Thursday.

China's National Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that Minister Wei Fenghe left for the US and will attend the second bilateral diplomatic and security dialogue on Friday in Washington.

It will be Wei's third meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in five months.

Analysts noted that despite frictions, China-US military ties remain stable. The visit sends a signal that China hopes to promote bilateral cooperation.

Frequent meetings indicate that it is the consensus between the two sides that strategic communication is important amid frictions, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Li said Wei's visit and the dialogue are aimed at "preparing a favorable atmosphere" for the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the upcoming G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

"Wei will focus on establishing a communication system with the US on some sensitive issues, including the South China Sea issue, to avoid misunderstanding and friction," Li said.

A Beijing military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday that "China and the US will strengthen consensus on crisis control and enhance cooperation on the dialogue mechanism, joint training, academic communication and humanitarian assistance."

The US should respect China's core interests and major concerns, and deal with divergence on the basis of mutual respect, the expert said, stressing that the Chinese military is determined to safeguard national security and maintain regional stability. 

Li added that friction has prevailed between the two countries since July when the US launched a trade war against China.

On October 4, US Vice President Mike Pence criticized Chinese military expenditure, claiming that it was as much as the rest of Asia combined, and that China intends to "militarize the South China Sea" in a speech at the Hudson Institute.

Pence's remarks came about half a month after the US State Department imposed sanctions on China's Equipment Development Department and its director, Li Shangfu, for violating the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

China's foreign ministry hit back, saying that China has indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, and that installing national defense facilities on the Nansha Islands, which are Chinese territory, is China exercising its right of self-defense as a sovereign state in accordance with international laws, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Another anonymous military expert in Beijing also told the Global Times on Thursday that Wei's visit could be key to resolving issues between the militaries of China and the US.

"The US should take responsibility for recent military friction between the two countries. And China condemns provocative acts by the US and insists on cooperation."

Newspaper headline: Defense chief’s US visit signals consensus


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