Taiwan question, South China Sea issue stressed in virtual meeting between Chinese, US senior military officials
Published: Dec 22, 2023 01:19 AM
File photo taken in July, 2016 shows Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs including Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Rui)

File photo taken in July, 2016 shows Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs including Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Rui)

A senior Chinese military official on Thursday stressed China’s stance on the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue in a virtual meeting with a US’ senior military official, as the two militaries started to resume talks following the recent meeting between the two countries’ top leaders.

Top-level communication is conducive to easing tensions and avoiding accidents, but the US must change its hostile stance against China in order to substantially improve the bilateral ties, experts said on Friday.

Liu Zhenli, a Central Military Commission (CMC) member and the chief of the CMC’s Joint Staff Department, on Thursday held a video teleconference with CQ Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, at the latter’s request, China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on the day.

The meeting between the two heads of state of China and the US in San Francisco has reached important consensus on the resumption of the exchanges and communication between the two countries’ militaries, and the two militaries should carry out communication and cooperation based on equality and respect, so as to jointly promote the bilateral ties to stabilize and get better, said Liu.

The key to develop healthy, stable and sustainable military relations is that the US should have right perception toward China, with the premise that the US should genuinely respect China’s core interests and major concerns, Liu said, noting that the key should be promoting pragmatic cooperation and boosting mutual understandings.

Liu stressed that the Taiwan question is a pure internal affair of China that does not allow any external interference, and the Chinese military will resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The US should earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, speak and act with caution, and safeguard regional peace and stability as well as the overall situation in the China-US relations with practical actions, Liu told Brown.

The two sides also discussed other topics, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry’s press release.

Reuters said that the virtual meeting between Liu and Brown marked the first such conversation in over a year following an agreement between the two countries’ top leaders last month to resume military-to-military ties after then US House speaker Nancy Pelosi provocatively visited the island of Taiwan in August 2022.

Communication between the senior military officials from the two countries conforms to the consensus reached by the two countries’ top leaders, and is conducive to easing tensions between the two militaries and avoiding accidents, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday.

But if the US does not change its hostile policy toward China, does not change its Indo-Pacific strategy that targets China and its designation of China as a systemic competitor, the China-US relations will not get better, as military mutual trust must be built on political mutual trust, Song said.

The Chinese side again stressed to the US its redlines and core interests, Song said. “When it comes to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, China will not make an inch of compromise or concession no matter who the opponent is,” the expert said.

The expert pointed out the US should stop selling arms and providing military aid to the island of Taiwan, and stop sending military aircraft and warships on China's doorstep in provocative manners in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, then there will be much less tensions between the two countries' militaries.