Reviving a New Engine
China should let its consumers and entrepreneurs play a larger role in driving economic growth
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Print Edition> World
UPDATED: April 14, 2014 NO. 16 APRIL 17, 2014
Agreeing to Disagree
Building a new-type China-U.S. military relationship requires both sides' efforts
By Ding Ying

REALITY CHECK: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (second left) visits the Changping Non-Commissioned Officer Academy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Beijing on April 9 (CFP)

The military relationship between China and the United States has been falling behind the process of building a new-type relationship between two major powers. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's recent China visit proved that a great deal of efforts must still be made by both sides to strengthen mutual trust and respect in spite of differences.


The tone of Hagel's China tour from April 7 to 10 was unusual. Unlike the cliché "cordial and friendly atmosphere" between high-level exchanges, Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, straightforwardly expressed dissatisfaction during talks with Hagel on April 8 for the latter's remarks. Chinese observers are also concerned that Washington's behavior might cause a new round of disputes in the region.

This was Hagel's first visit to China since he took office last year. China was one of the stops of his 10-day Asia trip, which also took him to Japan and Mongolia. In an interview with Japan's Nikkei newspaper on April 5, Hagel criticized China's air defense identification zone over the East China Sea as provocative and unilateral. Hagel hosted talks with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers in Hawaii in early April, where he brought up topics of growing U.S. concern about territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"Hagel's attitude was astonishing," said Zhang Qingmin, a professor of diplomacy with Peking University. "No other high-ranking U.S. officials publicly backed Japan like Hagel." Zhang added that Washington's tough attitude reflected its inflated sense of crisis.

Hagel has publicly supported Japan's claim and welcomed the country's review of the self-defense aspect of its Constitution in spite of Washington's assertions that it took no position on the Diaoyu Islands dispute. Just prior to his China visit, Hagel announced that the United States would forward-deploy two additional Aegis ballistic missile defense ships to Japan. Amid their territorial spat over the Diaoyu Islands, relations between China and Japan have been at an all-time low.

China didn't swallow the bitter pill in silence. "I can tell you frankly, your remarks made in the ASEAN defense ministers' meeting and to Japanese politicians were tough, and with a clear attitude. The Chinese people, including myself, are dissatisfied with such remarks," Fan told Hagel. Fan also blamed the U.S. side for apparently betraying its promises. "China hopes the United States can be a responsible great power and do more to promote regional stability and friendship between the two countries and militaries."

U.S. attitudes on the Asia-Pacific situation have caused worry among the Chinese. Zhang noted that although Washington claimed its goal was a stable Asia-Pacific, its biased stance on territorial disputes will encourage some nations to create trouble, which is going to lead to a result that even Washington doesn't want. Hagel expressed partial attitudes to the Philippines. Besides, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill calling for the sale of frigates to Taiwan on April 7.

Zhu Chenghu, a professor with China's National Defense University, pointed out that Hagel's visit was supposed to cool down regional disputes. Hagel's speech in Japan, however, had released a negative message. The professor warned that if the U.S. side insists on partial stances, regional tension could worsen.

Previously, Hagel was considered by Chinese observers to be a "mild" Republican who opposed war, due to his experience during the Viet Nam War in the 1950s to 1960s. But his acts after taking office have brought disappointment.

1   2   Next  

Top Story
-Brainstorm for the Future of Asia
-Zhou Wenzhong: Reaching Consensus to Asia-Pacific Prosperity
-Intimate Diplomacy
-Kerry's Chinese Valentine
-Reverse Mortgages
Related Stories
-Intimate Diplomacy
-Kerry's Chinese Valentine
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved