China, U.S. seek to repair military ties

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, December 15, 2010
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China and the United States began efforts to thaw what has been a military-to-military relationship of peaks and valleys, and while Chinese experts said they were uncertain where relations were headed, they said the recent meeting helped re-establish contact between the two ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to the US early next year.

On Dec 10, US and Chinese military officials met in Washington to discuss North Korea and maritime security in a bid to restart once-frozen bilateral military ties. 

The talks were co-chaired by General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and Michele Flournoy, US undersecretary of defense for policy.

The resumption of the military-to-military dialogue points to warming ties between China and the US, which could gain momentum in the beginning of next year, said Zhao Xiaozhuo, an expert on US military affairs at the Academy of Military Science.

"The two countries are both well aware of the importance of maintaining a peaceful and cooperative bilateral relation," Zhao said. "But there are conflicts that have been historic problems affecting China-US relations and a change in the international structure because of China's rapid development."

The talks come ahead of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' long-expected five-day visit to China from Jan 10-14. Chen Bingde, chief of the Chinese military's general staff, is slated to visit the US in the near future. The discussions were also the first high-level talks between the two since military-to-military ties stalled in January after Washington announced a $6.4 billion arms sale package for Taiwan.

Ma and Flournoy agreed that it is important to keep military ties stable. Flournoy called the talks candid and frank. At a press conference that Friday in Washington, Guan Youfei, deputy director of the ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, said Ma and Flournoy both agreed that the two militaries should maintain communications and exchanges.

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