US, China in defense talks

By Liu Yunlong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-20 1:03:01

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during their meeting in the Pentagon in Washington D.C. , the United States, on Aug. 19, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

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Defense chiefs from China and the US Monday held talks at the Pentagon, where they tried to build trust between the two militaries to follow through a vision laid out by top Chinese and US leaders against the backdrop of concerns over cyber security and Washington's involvement in maritime disputes between Beijing and its neighbors.

It was the first meeting between Chang Wanquan, China's minister of national defense, and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, both appointed to the top defense posts earlier this year.

During a June summit in California, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama agreed to foster a new type of military relations commensurate with the new type of major country relationship that features mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Guo Longlong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times that both countries showed positive attitudes toward the new model, however, "some senior US military officers voiced opinions contrary to the model, which risks turning it into empty talks."

As a result, Chang and Hagel were expected to improve mutual trust between the two militaries, which has widely been regarded as the weakest link in Sino-US relations.

Tao Wenzhao, a research fellow with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that mutual trust can only be built through successful cooperation, which is demonstrated in joint military exercises and exchanges between officers at various levels.

The two militaries will hold an anti-piracy exercise next week, and China has accepted a US invitation to join next year's Rim of the Pacific military exercise.

Despite the momentum in improving the ties, several problems still linger between the two powers.

The US has repeatedly criticized the Chinese government and military for alleged cyber attacks, but has somewhat toned down its rhetoric following intelligence leaker Edward Snowden's revelation of US cyber snooping programs.

For China, it is concerned about the US pivot to Asia, which is heralded by the US military, and the US supporting countries like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in their respective territorial disputes with China at sea.

In an opinion piece in the People's Daily's overseas edition on Monday, Zhao Xiaozhuo, a research fellow with the Chinese PLA Academy of Military Science, said the recent tensions in East Asia were a result of "lukewarm relations between the Chinese and US militaries" and the "quasi-confrontation" between them.

He voiced hope that the Chang-Hagel meeting will help boost positive interaction between the two militaries in the Asia-Pacific region, and send a positive signal of China-US military cooperation to the world.

Chang Friday kicked off his US visit in Hawaii, where he visited US Pacific Command, and was at US Northern Command, which is responsible for defending the US homeland, in Colorado over the weekend, the AP reported.

The AP quoted a Northern Command spokesman, Jeff Davis, as saying that the visit was a chance for Chang and General Chuck Jacoby, the commander of Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Command, "to share views on how the military provides support to civil authorities during man-made or natural disasters."

Guo said while it was a friendly gesture for the US to open the North Command to the Chinese defense chief, it is also pushing for a "reciprocal visit" to China's core military unit by Hagel, who will visit China next year.

Xinhua contributed to this story

Posted in: Military

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