Military talks need sincerity

08:35, May 24, 2010      

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High-level military exchanges between Beijing and Washington may resume following the hopeful Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SAED), though the United States needs to show more sincerity, experts said.

The second round of SAED will discuss the possibility of Sino-US military cooperation. Washington hopes military ties between the two countries will regain momentum over the next six months, Kurt Campbell, the US State Department's head of East Asian and Pacific affairs, was quoted by the US China Press as saying.

"The strategic dialogue will definitely touch on this issue," Campbell said when asked whether military exchanges would resume.

During the two-day meetings, Campbell said Pentagon officials will also talk to their Chinese counterparts about the recently-published Nuclear Posture Review and Quadrennial Defense Review, which outline US defense policy.

China halted part of its military exchange programs with the US in January after US President Barack Obama announced a $6.5 billion (44.2 billion yuan) arms sales plan to Taiwan. US defense secretary Robert Gates was due to visit China this year.

The first SAED held in Washington in July 2009 saw the full resumption of bilateral military relations, which were suspended in October 2008 following former US President George W. Bush's endorsement of an arms sale to Taiwan in October 2008. Experts predict the second SAED may bring similar results.

"There will of course be military exchanges between the two countries after the dialogue, but it depends solely on Washington to either speed up or slow down the process," said Pan Zheng, an expert on US military studies at the National Defense University in Beijing.

"Sino-US military communication has never been completely cut off," he explained. "Even after the arms sales to Taiwan, there were still some exchanges."

To proceed, China wants to see more sincerity from the US, Pan said.

"To tell the world how many nuclear heads it owns is not being sincere, it only serves as a descriptive warning to the rest. We want to see our core interests fully and practically respected, whether it's on the land or in the sea," he added.

Other observers believe the US may have already attempted to test the waters before the dialogues. US Commerce Secretary Gary Lock said last Friday that his government is loosening the export of high-tech goods to China, while expressing caution over sensitive technologies concerning national security.

Due to existing restrictions, China is not able to import military and some civilian technologies from the US.

"Loosening export controls is good news to us. If what Locke said was a message from Washington, it may even take Sino-US military ties to a higher level," said Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies.

If the loosening of export controls is to be officially discussed during the dialogues, then China has to consider what it has to offer in return, he said.

"The US may demand more cooperation and effort in international and regional affairs in exchange for its technology," Li said.

Source:China Daily

(Editor:梁军)

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