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UPDATED: May 31, 2011 NO. 22 JUNE 2, 2011
Building a New Military Relationship
China and the United States should take joint efforts to improve ties between their armed forces

SINGING FOR PEACE: Tenor Dai Yuqiang and soprano Leigh Ann Hinton perform during a joint concert by the PLA Military Band and the U.S. Army Band at the UN headquarters in New York City on May 20 (ZHU WEI)

The two sides should show respect, rather than pose threats, to each other. China and the United States should respect each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and paths of development. Neither of them should impose its own ideology or development model on the other, threaten the other, or label the other side as a potential enemy. China will never threaten other countries and it hopes that other countries will never threaten it. It has no intention to challenge U.S. regional and global military positions or to seek regional hegemony. The only purpose of China's military modernization is to protect the country's security and development interests.

China and the United States should regularly communicate to maintain transparency with each other, which will help to establish and maintain the new-type military relationship between them. Only by keeping open and smooth lines of communication can their military relationship see a substantial improvement. The establishment of a new-type military relations will depend on their uninterrupted communication at various levels, which is the only way to create trust.

Chinese and U.S. armed forces also should carry out equal dialogue. The new-type bilateral military relationship will be based on mutual respect, cooperation and reciprocity. If the United States does not consider China as an equal, it cannot possibly conduct close military dialogue and communication with China. If the United States insists on only taking its own interests into consideration while ignoring others on military issues, it will not have the means to build normal military relations with those other countries in the future.

Seeking solutions

The two sides should establish mechanisms to decrease the misjudging of the other side's military intentions and prevent crises. It is impossible to count on a couple of high-ranking dialogues to solve all the problems between China and the United States. New mechanisms are needed to guarantee the healthy development of their new-type military relationship. By now, they have established helpful mechanisms, such as defense consultations and working meetings between China's Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense, maritime security consultations as well as mechanisms for military environmental protection and humanitarian assistance. But more efforts are needed.

Both sides should take concrete steps to avoid open conflicts. If the United States continues its arms sale to Taiwan, the development of the Sino-U.S. new-type military relationship will surely be hindered. Decades have passed, and the situation across the Taiwan Straits has changed dramatically. It is high time for the United States to re-examine its Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. The United States should help promote progress in cross-Straits relations, instead of attempting to stifle China's development by playing the Taiwan card.

During his U.S. visit, Chen said the PLA has no operational deployment or missile deployment along the coastal areas near Taiwan. The United States should acknowledge this fact and accept the Chinese Government's peaceful reunification policy.

China and the United States should explore new areas of military cooperation. For instance, enhancing military security in outer space and international waters should be a new focus of the Sino-U.S. military cooperation.

The author is a research fellow with the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army

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