Top military official's visit promotes China-US military ties

16:40, May 24, 2011      

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Chen Bingde, chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, is now on his way to Europe after completing his visit to the United States. His visit to the United States attracted wide attention from both media agencies and ordinary citizens at home and abroad because it was not only a major sign for the improvement of China-U.S. military ties but also met the high public expectations on the military relations between the two major powers. The outcomes of the visit resulted in a consensus reached by China and the United States to advance their military ties while setting the tone for pragmatic future cooperation between the two sides.

Chen's visit to the United States was aimed at implementing the consensus reached by Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama on China-U.S. military ties and establishing military ties based on mutual respect and mutual benefit that match their cooperative partnership. This requires both sides to concentrate on the development according to the times, abandon outdated mindsets and work out a direction for the development of China-U.S. military ties from a fresh new angle.

First, mutual respect is a precondition. No one can win respect without first respecting others. Only mutual respect can lead to effective cooperation. Only respect with actual actions can make the attitude of respect more meaningful.

Second, being sensitive to each other's interests is a core condition. Safeguarding core interests is the responsibility of any country's military. China and the United States must respect each other’s core interests and value the other's major concerns so as to create conditions for the exchanges and cooperation between the militaries of the two countries.

Third, communication is the foundation. Communication promotes understanding and trust begins with exchanges. The militaries of China and the United States should work together to give full play to the various communication channels and mechanisms, the two nations must actively implement various dialogues to deepen mutual understanding and strategic mutual trust.

Fourth, practical cooperation is the starting point. China and the United States should consolidate the results of their existing cooperation, expand cooperation areas and cultivate new growth points for cooperation. They should also conduct practical cooperation step by step to enrich the subtext of China-U.S. military relations.

Fifth, mutual benefit is the goal. Developing China-U.S. military relations requires both sides to stand tall and look far. Both China and the United States share extensive common interests and security concerns in the Asia-Pacific region. Developing mutually beneficial military relations is conducive to the peace and stability of the two countries as well as that of the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world.

Promoting the new development of China-U.S. military relations is an important consensus reached by the heads of the two countries and also a necessary requirement for the development of the times. Therefore, both sides need to work together toward the same direction and continuously expand common interests and properly handle differences and sensitive issues.

The United States needs to show sincerity, courage and wisdom to gradually address the problems such as selling arms to Taiwan, launching reconnaissance in China with naval vessels and aircraft and discriminatory domestic laws that seriously obstruct the development of China-U.S. military relations.

The U.S. military should discard the outdated Cold War mentality, avoid unfounded suspicions and build up trust in its Chinese counterpart, so the two countries can build long-term stable and reliable military-to-military relations. China hopes the United States can play a constructive role in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world.

The United States should take a rational and objective view of China's development and realize that its relations with China are not a zero-sum game. Due to China's growing military power and comprehensive national strength in recent years, certain U.S. politicians have seized every opportunity to hype the "China threat" theory, which distorts China's strategic intentions and seriously hinders the sound development of bilateral military ties.

China continues to strengthen national defense simply for the purpose of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and interests as well as promoting world and regional peace and stability. China is a reliable friend of the United States and has neither the intention nor ability to challenge the superpower.

As the first visit to the United States by a top Chinese military official in the second decade of the 21st century, Chen's visit has enhanced people's confidence in the sound development of China-U.S. military relations. However, one or two visits are not enough to help the U.S. and Chinese militaries "perform in harmony" as their bands did a few days ago.

The two countries should strengthen dialogue and consultation with a sincere, friendly and pragmatic attitude. They must also intensify bilateral cooperation in areas of common concern and properly handle sensitive issues in order to promote the healthy, stable development of the bilateral military relations.

(By Qian Lihua, a special commentator with People's Daily, and the director of the Foreign Affairs Office at the Ministry of National Defense, translated by People's Daily Online.)

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