Forging Partnerships
French president's China visit has lasting political and economic significance
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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: May 6, 2013 NO. 19 MAY 9, 2013
Cementing Military Trust
Dempsey's visit to China highlights need for cooperation
By Yu Lintao

WALKING THE RED CARPET: Fang Fenghui (left), Chief of the PLA General Staff, welcomes Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Beijing on April 22 (CNSPHOTO)

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited China in late April days after top U.S. diplomat John Kerry did the same. The recent series of visits between Washington and Beijing, kicked off by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in March, demonstrate an eagerness to consult with each other since the beginning of President Barack Obama's second term and China's leadership transition. In addition to ever-expanding economic and trade ties, along with social and cultural initiatives, the enhancement of bilateral military exchanges remains important for the strengthening of mutual trust, despite barricades.

"Dempsey's visit was helpful in learning more about the Chinese military, building trust and enhancing coordination between the two sides on regional security affairs. But compared to Sino-U.S. economic, social and cultural relations, there remains much room for the improvement of their bilateral military relationship," said Teng Jianqun, Director of the Department for American Studies and a senior research fellow on China's security policy with the China Institute of International Studies.

Candid interaction

During talks with Dempsey, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission, said China is willing to make joint efforts with the United States to establish a new type of military partnership. Fang Fenghui, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), expressed a similar stance.

Dempsey said he was satisfied with the candid, in-depth and fruitful interaction with Chinese military officers during his trip. The United States is ready to work with China to strengthen mutual trust and overcome obstacles in boosting military-to-military relations, he added.

Teng said the new-type military relationship is part of the "new type of relations between major countries" that China advocates. It is also a basis for promoting mutual trust. However, military ties remain the most sensitive component of Sino-U.S. relations.

"High-level military exchanges, which help promote military transparency and mutual trust, are necessary in the context of the U.S. pivot to Asia," Teng told Beijing Review. The U.S. focus on Asia has aroused concern in China over possible containment tactics.

China is trying to enhance its military transparency to gain trust from the outside world, Teng said. He cited the newly published white paper on China's armed forces as an example, saying the country is showing both transparency and self-confidence in its national defense.

In the paper, China for the first time disclosed the numbers of army, navy and air force servicemen, designations of its army combined corps and its main missile lineup. The paper also showed a clear line in the strategic intention of Chinese defense.

Han Xudong, a professor at the Beijing-based PLA National Defense University, said that the results of Dempsey's China trip showed that the United States sees great value in the development of the Chinese military. Deepening Sino-U.S. military exchanges will play a positive role in safeguarding stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

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