Military Exchanges Between China and the U.S.

Military exchanges between armed forces of the two countries constitute an important part of China-U.S. relations. Contacts and cooperation have been conducted in the military field ever since the establishment of diplomatic relationship between China and the U.S. On June 5, 1989, U.S. President George Bush announced the sanctions against China and on the next day, U.S. Secretary of Defense Cheney announced the suspension of the scheduled visits to the U.S. by China's Navy Commander Zhang Lianzhong and Minister of National Defense Qin Jiwei. On June 7, the Ministry of National Defense of China responded strongly to Cheney's Statement, expressing its utmost regret over the sabotage of existing normal relations between the defense institutions of the two countries and the gross interference with China's internal affairs by the U.S. side. In 1994, the high-level military exchanges were restored after five years of suspension. In August, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Liberation Army (PLA) Xu Huizi paid a visit to the U.S. and in October, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry visited China. In 1995, the foundation of China-U.S. relations was severely undermined by U.S. Government's permission of Li Denghui's visit to the U.S. As a result, China's Air Force Commander Yu Zhenwu broke off his visit in the U.S. and Minister of National Defense Chi Haotian postponed his planned visit. Due to the gross interference with China's internal affairs by the U.S. during the PLA military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, the visit scheduled April, 1996 to the U.S. by China's State Councilor and Defense Minister Chi Haotian was again postponed. Chi's official visit was finally realized on December 8-18, 1996. In October, wreckage of an American aircraft crashed during WWII and the remains of the crew members were found in Xing'an County of Guangxi Autonomous Region. During his meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Manila on Nov. 24, President Jiang Zemin informed the U.S. President of the finding and passed to him the relevant photos and videotapes. President Jiang also welcomed the U.S. side to send personnel to China to make an on-site investigation. President Clinton thanked President Jiang for the information and said that this would bring enormous consolation to the family members of the dead and all the American people would be grateful for it. On December 9, Defense Minister Chi Haotian, during his visit to the U.S., handed some articles left behind by the above-mentioned U.S. pilots to Secretary of Defense William Perry and Mr. Perry expressed his gratitude.

From March 9 to 25, 1997, a Chinese naval fleet consisting of three vessels, Harbin, Zhuhai and Nancang paid a visit to the Pearl Harbour of Hawaii and San Diego successively, which was the first visit to the U.S. territorial continent by a Chinese naval fleet. From August 5 to 12, Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, General Fu Quanyou visited the U.S. and from May 12 to 16, General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, visited China. In September, two U.S. warships visited Chinese city of Qingdao. During President Jiang Zemin's state visit to the U.S., the two sides reached an agreement on establishing a consultative mechanism to strengthen military maritime safety.

In January, 1998, the U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited China and the two sides signed the Agreement between the Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China and the Department of Defense of the United States of America on Establishing a Consultation Mechanism to Strengthen Military Maritime Safety. In September, General Zhang Wannian, China's Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited the U.S. and the two sides signed the Joint Statement on Exchange of Relevant Information about Military Environmental Protection. During President Clinton's state visit to China in June 1998, the two heads of state announced that China and the United States will not target strategic nuclear weapon under their respective control at each other. Moreover, the two sides reached an agreement on cooperation in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, military enviornmental protection and exchanges of observers to inspect the other side's joint training exercises. U.S. warships visited Qingdao and Shanghai respectively in August and December.

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