Chinese, US military leaders vow to further co-op

09:13, October 29, 2009      

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Visiting Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Caihou and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed here Tuesday to further the bilateral military relationship and cooperation in a stable and healthy way.

During their meeting at the Pentagon, Xu told Gates that through joint efforts of both sides, a positive momentum has been maintained in the development of relations between the two great nations.

In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama reached an important consensus at their meeting in London to jointly build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship between the two nations for the 21st century, ushering in a new phase in their bilateral relations, he noted.

They met again in New York in September, and fully endorsed the current direction of the development of China-U.S. relations, Xu said.

A sound China-U.S. relationship, one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, not only conforms to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but is also conducive to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large, said the Chinese general.

The two countries, in the face of the complicated and fast-changing international situation, share broader common interests, and their relationship is becoming increasingly important in terms of strategic significance and global influence with a broad prospect for further growth.

Xu said China is ready to work with the U.S. side to expand exchanges and further cooperation so as to push forward the bilateral relationship in a healthy and stable way.

In general, the bilateral military relationship shows a positive momentum for development, Xu said. The two militaries have adopted a series of measures to put their relationship back on a normal track and move it forward, in accordance with the consensus reached by the top leaders of the two countries at their London meeting to improve and develop bilateral military ties, he said.

Over the years, Xu noted, the Chinese military has adopted a positive approach toward expanding exchanges and cooperation with the U.S. military, in areas of high-level exchanges, defense consultations and dialogues, and academic education.

The Chinese military has also expanded the positive aspects of its relationship with its U.S. counterpart by conducting joint sea rescue drills and cooperating on humanitarian issues, disaster relief and escorts for commercial ships.

In line with the principles of "respect, mutual trust, reciprocity and mutual benefit" and in the spirit of respecting and taking care of each other's interest and concerns, the Chinese military is ready to work with the U.S. side to make continued efforts to enhance strategic mutual trust and strengthen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation, so as to promote the healthy growth of China-U.S. military-to-military ties.

Gates said the military-to-military ties are a component part of the overall bilateral relationship and there is still much space for cooperation between the two militaries.

He said the U.S.-China military relationship should be developed with a view to expanding common interests and the two sides should break the cycle of "on-again, off-again" in their military-to-military relationship to foster a stable growth momentum.

During the talks, Xu and Gates explored ways to further the military-to-military cooperation and reached agreement on the following points:

First, promoting high-level exchanges of visits: In 2010, Gates will visit China. The People's Liberation Army of China Chief of the General Staff, Chen Bingde, and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen will exchange visits.

Second, expanding cooperation in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief: The two sides agreed to conduct joint maritime searches and rescue exercises.

Third, deepening military medical cooperation, particularly in the area of pandemic diseases: The two sides agreed to conduct subject matter expert exchanges.

Fourth: Expanding exchanges between the armies of the two nations.

Fifth: Enhancing the program of mid-grade and junior officer exchanges. Xu and Gates stressed the importance of such exchanges and agreed to continue them in 2010.

Sixth: Promoting cultural and sports exchanges between the two militaries.

Lastly, invigorating the existing diplomatic channels and consultation mechanisms to improve maritime military safety: The two sides will hold the Defense Policy Coordination Talks and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement discussions in December 2009.

During the meeting, Xu also pointed out that to maintain the healthy growth of the military-to-military relationship, several major obstacles need to be removed, including the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S. military aircraft and ships' intrusions into China's exclusive economic zone, U.S. legislation which restricts the bilateral military exchange, and the U.S. side's lack of strategic trust in China.

The Chinese general also briefed Gates on the new developments of China's national defense and military.

Both sides also exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the Iran nuclear issue and the South Asian situation.

Gates hosted a welcoming ceremony for Xu at the Pentagon prior to their meeting.

The Chinese general is visiting the United State from October 24 to November 3 at the invitation of Gates. Xu's U.S. trip is aimed at fulfilling the consensus reached by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on improving and developing relations between the two countries' armies.

Source: Xinhua
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