Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Command Timothy Keating said in Beijing on Tuesday that the United States adheres to the one-China policy.
He made the remarks at a press conference at the US Embassy to China in Beijing before he visited the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences. He noted that the US position on the Taiwan issue was, is and will be as expressed in 1979, there is only one China.
Keating, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a four-day visit, said such a position was "constant".
His trip came as part of increasing high-level military exchanges between China and the United States. This was his second visit since last May.
During his visit, Keating met respectively with Central Military Commission (CMC) Vice Chairman Guo Boxiong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Ma Xiaotian, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
"The purpose of our visit was to continue to build upon relationships that we had begun when we were here in May," Keating said.
He added he had a series of very "productive, informative and interesting, candid, forthright and enlightening discussions" with Chinese officials. They covered issues on Taiwan, China's military capability development and bilateral military exchanges.
Keating noted US and Chinese officials discussed the Taiwan issue, upcoming elections there, and some narrow issues. The US position, as the country had emphasized, is "constant", there is but one China. The United States pays close attention to the development on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and all throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The fundamental goal of the US Pacific Command is to make sure a war doesn't happen in this region. "We will watch carefully and evaluate any element we see as destabilizing."
Keating said it was not just unilateral, bilateral or multilateral. All countries in this area have a responsibility to make sure to the very best of their ability that there is not conflict, but there is better understanding, better communication, collaboration and cooperation across the entire spectrum of military operations.
The US side proposed Chinese participation in multilateral exercise in May in Thailand. The Chinese colleagues said they would entertain that, Keating said.
He said the United States hoped to increase both quantity and quality and sophistication of joint exercises and wanted to increase the amount, volume, the quality of the exchanges between the two militaries so as to have a better fundamental military-to-military understanding.
Keating told the press he believed he had developed honest and true friendship with a couple of senior Chinese officials, though they acknowledged differences.
"We want them to know our concerns and develop a kind of relationship that they know we are not the slightest bit interested in a conflict. Rather, we are interested in collaboration and cooperation," he stressed.
Ding Jingong, deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Office of China's Ministry of National Defense, said "Keating's attitude on the Taiwan issue is positive, and will help improve military cooperation between us."
He said China also held a positive attitude toward developing Sino-US military relations.
"High-level visits like this will boost understanding and mutual trust. The two exchanged opinions on a wide range of issues, which would help prepare for practical cooperation," Ding said.
According to Ding, Keating offered many plans for Sino-US military exchanges. For example, he suggested exchange programs for young and middle-aged officers and senior non-commissioned officers between the two countries. He called for mutual visits of naval ships and hoped to arrange observation of multinational and bilateral military drills.
Keating is also scheduled to visit Shanghai and Hong Kong.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2008)