Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a four-day visit, a sure sign of improving ties between the two armies.
Coming at the invitation of Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Liang Guanglie, Pace's visit is the first paid by a high-ranking US military officer to China this year.
"Your visit is one of the most important items of the China-US military exchanges this year," Liang told Pace Thursday afternoon following a welcoming ceremony.
"I agree with you that this visit is very important for the two countries. I truly believe the future promises great things for both China and the United States," Pace said, shortly before entering closed-door talks at the seat of the Central Military Commission (CMC), China's top military authority.
Pace added he and Liang should "help each other, understand each other and find ways to do good things for the future of the two countries."
Liang described overall China-US military ties as seeing "good momentum of stable development", citing the progress on high-level exchanges between military institutions. He further stated China's hope to see military exchanges with the US deepen at all levels.
He said China would like to further military exchanges with the United States at various levels.
Addressing the Taiwan issue, Liang also re-affirmed China's stance, saying that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory and that a close watch has been kept on the Taiwan secessionists' actions. For his part, Pace confirmed that the US government will adhere to the one-China policy and expressed his hope of seeing the Taiwan issue resolved peacefully. To this end, Liang reiterated that "we will make our utmost efforts to safeguard the stability of the Taiwan Strait and push for a peaceful unification of the motherland."
The Taiwan issue has remained an obstacle between the two countries with repeated arms sales from the US to Taiwan. In late February, the US Department of Defense announced that it plans to sell to Taiwan over 400 missiles worth of US$421 million. The proposed sale will include Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air missiles, Maverick missiles, as well as spare parts and maintenance equipment.
Later Thursday afternoon, Pace met separately with Guo Boxiong and Cao Gangchuan, both of them Vice-Chairmen of the CMC.
"The current momentum of China-US military ties is not easily attained and it must be treasured by both sides," Guo said, before briefing Pace on China's path of peaceful development and about its defense policy.
Cao, who is also China's Defense Minister, reiterated that China's defense policy is based on self-defense, and that China's defense spending remained moderate.
During his visit, Pace will hold a seminar with PLA Military Science Academy researchers on Friday, before visiting several of China's military areas and institutions, including those in Shenyang and Nanjing.
(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2007)