Chinese and U.S. officials have reached a consensus on a wide range of issues during the ongoing ninth vice-ministerial level defense consultations taking place here from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5, a Chinese official said.
Qian Lihua, Director of the Foreign Office of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, told a group of reporters here Tuesday that both sides attached great importance to the consultations, which were held in a "gentle and constructive" atmosphere.
The two sides also had a very thorough exchange of ideas on some sensitive issues and expressed each other's own concerns, he said.
The consultations were co-chaired by Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman.
For the first time, officials from the U.S. National Security Council and the U.S. State Department attended the bilateral defense talks, which also highlighted the importance of the consultations.
Qian said the two sides reached a consensus on many matters during the consultations.
They agreed to continuously strengthen high-level visits between the two militaries, and to deepen the existing exchange mechanism.
They also explored the possibilities of future cooperation in other areas.
Chinese officials told their U.S. counterparts that although Chinese and U.S. leaders have always attached great importance to bilateral military exchanges, the relationship between the two militaries have lagged behind the bilateral relations of the two countries in other areas.
U.S. officials said they felt the same way and hoped the relationship between the two militaries could at least keep pace with nonmilitary bilateral ties or even take a leading place in China-U.S. relations.
The two sides also exchanged opinions on issues such as the establishment of a bilateral military hotline, cooperation on military historical files and exchanges between young military officers of the two nations.
During the talks, Chinese officials reiterated that the Taiwan issue is the biggest hurdle for developing the relationship between the two militaries.
They urged the U.S. side to take concrete actions to stop its official contacts and military links with the Taiwan authorities and to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan to avoid any damage to Sino-U.S. relations.
U.S. officials said the United States will stick to its obligations in the three Joint Communiques between the two countries, uphold the one-China policy and oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo of the Taiwan Strait.
They also reiterated Washington's opposition to the push by the Taiwan authorities for a referendum on U.N. membership.
The Chinese delegation arrived here Saturday for the defense consultations, the ninth since the two sides agreed to meet for defense and security issues in 1997.