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China, US ready to enhance mutual trust

By Qin Zhongwei and Wu Jiao in Beijing and Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily)

08:26, April 24, 2013

Military ties a vital part of relations between two powers, analyst says

Beijing and Washington reaffirmed their readiness to enhance military-to-military trust and expand areas of cooperation, as President Xi Jinping met a top US military officer on Tuesday.

Military ties have become the most vulnerable part of bilateral relations, though they have seen steady improvement in the past two years despite obstacles remaining, analysts said.

The sound military relationship is a positive way to improve strategic trust and help manage and avoid potential risks and crises, Xi told General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a five-day visit. It is his first trip since becoming the highest-ranking US military officer in 2011.

Xi hailed the progress in military exchanges and cooperation between the two countries since he visited the US in February 2012 as vice-president.

Dempsey said he had productive meetings and candid talks with Chinese military leaders, and he hoped to work with China to enhance trust, overcome obstacles and deepen the military relationship.

He also met Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Chang Wanquan, minister of national defense, on Tuesday, when leaders of the two militaries stressed the significance of deepening strategic trust and mutual understanding.

Fan said both countries should advance ties on the basis of respecting each other's core interests and major concerns and solving the obstacles that hinder the development of military links.

It was announced on Monday that the two countries will hold a joint military drill on humanitarian rescue and disaster relief in 2013, as well as a joint anti-piracy drill in the Gulf of Aden.

umber of planned visits and exchanges this year that will be helpful in increasing mutual understanding between the US and Chinese militaries, said Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and the Freeman Chairman in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Both countries' leaders have recognized that enhancing mutual trust is impossible without strengthening bilateral military ties," Glaser said.

There are a host of issues between China and the US on which the two countries can and should cooperate, according to Joseph Bosco, a US national security consultant who retired in 2010 from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The potential could be further explored in areas such as disaster relief, piracy, terrorism, pandemic diseases and cyber espionage, Bosco said.

Experts said there are still three obstacles inhibiting ties, namely US arms sales to Taiwan, frequent reconnaissance by US naval ships and aircraft in the waters and airspace of China's exclusive economic zones, and US restrictions on exchanges and technical cooperation between the two military forces.

Washington's increasing military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, what it termed a pivot policy, also raised China's concerns.

Both sides are in the process of knowing "the cards" each other holds, said Quan Linyuan, a professor from National Defense University of PLA.

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