China eyes new-type military relations with U.S: Defense Ministry

09:15, May 12, 2011      

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China expects to promote the establishment of a new-type of military relations with the United States through a senior military official's visit to the U.S. from May 15 to 22.

Qian Lihua, director of the Foreign Affairs Office with the National Defense Ministry, made the remarks during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The new-type of China-U.S. military relations would feature mutual respect and reciprocal beneficial cooperation, said Qian, adding China hopes to work with the U.S. to ensure the complete success of the Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chen Bingde's official visit to the U.S.

During his visit, Chen will hold talks with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. He will also meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Tom Donilon.

Chen will address China's position on three major obstacles hindering China-U.S. military relations during his visit, said Qian.

The three obstacles, namely U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, frequent reconnaissance by U.S. naval ships and aircraft in the waters and airspace of China's exclusive economic zones, and the restrictions imposed by some U.S. domestic laws on exchanges and technical cooperation between the Chinese and U.S. armed forces, have been hindering the healthy development of bilateral military relations, said Qian.

In January 2010, the Pentagon decided to sell approximately 6.4 billion U.S. dollar of arms to Taiwan. That caused the suspension of some military exchange programs between China and the United States.

Qian noted that China's position on the arms sale issue is consistent and clear. "If the U.S. continues to sell weapons to Taiwan, China will definitely respond to the action."

"The U.S. should take the issue into serious consideration and gradually resolve the problem so as to ensure the sound and steady development of bilateral military relations," he said.

On the second obstacle, Qian said U.S. military surveillance and survey operations against China is the source of "accidental conflicts" between the two countries, which not only undermines China's security, but also harms the mutual trust between the two armed forces.

Unless the U.S. stops the reconnaissance operations, the accidental frictions between the two sides could not be ruled out, he said, adding it will pose a threat to bilateral military ties.

Qian also called on the U.S. to adjust or abolish discriminatory domestic laws against China, such as the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000", the "DeLay Amendment" and the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1990-1991", which set limits to bilateral military exchanges and high-tech exports to China.

Those laws were enacted in the late 1990s when bilateral military relations fell into a downturn, and now they already run against the backdrop of the China-U.S. cooperative partnership, he noted.

"China hopes the U.S. will respect China's reasonable concern on the three issues and adopt feasible measures to resolve them," he said.

With regards to developing bilateral military ties, China has its bottom line, which is featuring mutual respect, mutual trust, equality and reciprocity, said Qian.

"Without the bottom line, bilateral military relations will be like water without a source and a tree without roots, and therefore could not have comprehensive and in-depth development," he said, adding for China, there is no room for compromise on the bottom line.

Chen's trip also includes visits to command centers, troops and institutes of the U.S. armed forces, said Qian, adding the high-profile reception arrangements showed the importance paid by U.S. officials to Chen's trip.

Chen's visit, the first in seven years by a PLA chief of the general staff, is part of the efforts to implement the consensus reached by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his U.S. counterpart, President Barack Obama, and is one of the most important activities of bilateral military diplomacy, he said.

The visit will further deepen mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation between the two armed forces and play an important role in promoting a sound and steady development of bilateral military relations, Qian noted.

A healthy, stable and reliable bilateral military relation is of great significance to the building of the China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, he said.

He noted that the two armed forces share broad common interests in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy escort missions, peace-keeping mission, non-traditional security sectors and the maintenance of the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific Region.

China attaches great importance to developing military ties with the U.S. and has made unremitting efforts in promoting bilateral military exchanges, he said.

So far, China and the U.S. have resumed military exchanges. Gates' visit to China in January mended bilateral military ties after several controversies last year. Also, the defense ministries of China and the United States held their seventh working-level meeting in April.

The just concluded China-U.S. Strategic Security Dialogue in Washington also included representatives from military departments of both countries.

Additionally, delegations of the Air War College of the U.S. Air Force's Air University and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visited China in March and April, respectively. Further, delegations of high-ranking military officers of the U.S. National Defense University and the University's National War College also visited China in early May.

According to Qian, a PLA's humanitarian relief delegation and a military medical science delegation, as well as a delegation of China's National Defense University, will also visit the U.S. in the upcoming months.

Moreover, the PLA Military Band will visit the U.S. in mid-May. It is the first time for the band to visit the U.S. since the two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1979, said Qian, adding the band will perform five concerts in the U.S.

Source: Xinhua
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