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Defense minister in crucial tour of US (2)

By Cui Haipei, Tan Yingzi  (China Daily)

08:12, May 07, 2012

This might reflect a greater willingness for military cooperation as these areas are near Northeast and Central Asia where the US has a military presence, Su said.

A visit to China in July by Mike Mullen, the former US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saw an agreement reached to promote military relations to cope with regional and global security challenges.

Gao Zugui, from the Institute for International Strategic Studies, said Liang's visit will enhance trust. Improved military relations will benefit Sino-US relations as a whole, he said, mentioning that Panetta will soon visit China.

Michael Swaine, Chinese security expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the militaries in both countries are "becoming increasingly entrenched" in their views regarding the motives of the other, and this is a "complicating factor" in the larger relationship.

"There is a strong need to bring that military relationship into line with the larger objectives," he said. "We need to establish a long-term program to improve the relationship, not just dialogue, not just visits, but actual military activities with other countries in the (Asia-Pacific) region.

"Moving in that direction is essential for both countries to get away from the current zero-sum mindset that is operating in the two militaries."

Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said maintaining a positive relationship with China is important in solving the South China Sea issue.

"A response to the challenge the Chinese are presenting in the South China Sea requires clear priorities,'' he said.

"Positive US-China relations are an important context, not an ‘interest' in and of themselves. The intersection of US and Chinese interests in the region and beyond is very narrow."

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