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UPDATED: April 12, 2014 NO. 16 APRIL 17, 2014
Agreeing to Disagree
Building a new-type China-U.S. military relationship requires both sides' efforts and frankness
By Ding Ying

Qu Xing, President of the China Institute of International Studies, pointed out that bilateral military relations are entering a new phase of maintaining regular dialogue, conducting reciprocal exchanges and deepening cooperation. He believed that if the two sides conduct practical discussion over sensitive regional issues, these relations can sustain stable and healthy development.

During Hagel's visit, the two sides reached consensus on building a new-type military relationship, which is a part of the China-U.S. "new-type major-country relationship," a concept advocated by Chinese President Xi Jinping. When meeting with Hagel, Xi restated the principles of no conflict and no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. He also called on the two sides to promote practical cooperation in various areas and manage effectively differences and sensitive issues so that the new type of major-country relations between China and the United States could move in the right direction.

Claiming his visit aimed to promote the new model of military relations that President Obama and President Xi have supported, the U.S. defense secretary said both sides have had positive, candid and constructive talks.

Hagel came up with three expectations on building a China-U.S. new-type military relationship, including keeping sustainable and substantial dialogues, conducting practical cooperation in fields the two sides have common interests and carrying out workable control through open communication over topics wherein they might have differences.

Hagel said the United States did not take any position on sovereignty disputes and hoped problems would be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means. Washington has had a one-China policy since 1979 and supports the peaceful reunification of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. A bill by a particular committee of Congress does not represent government policy, he explained.

To Zhu Feng, a professor of international studies with Peking University, the China-U.S. relationship shows the tendency of a strategic competition in East Asia. Hagel also admitted previously that Beijing and Washington are not enemies, but competitors.

Zhu Feng said that it is not necessary to cover up the competition between the two sides, but it doesn't mean bilateral cooperation should be cut off. At a time when regional hotspot and security issues require increasing coordination between the two sides, China-U.S. military exchanges should go beyond expanding bilateral defense cooperation, he said. In the foreseeable future, bilateral military relationship will decide whether or not the two sides can control conflicts when upgraded disputes occur.

Yao Yunzhu, a researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army, noticed that military and security relationship will be the indicator of mutual trust between China and the United States. "Building a new-type relationship between two powers and a new-type military relationship will input positive energy to the Asia-Pacific. By then, many current problems will be solved under the framework of such relationships," she said. Yao added that the common interests between the two sides also require further communication and cooperation on regional issues to avoid unexpected conflicts because of misjudgment.

The military relationship has lagged far behind other relationships between China and the United States, especially the economic relationship, said Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of the School of International Studies with the Renmin University of China. "China made a good start of showing trust and transparency by inviting Hagel to visit its only aircraft carrier in spite of his inappropriate speech in Japan," said Jin.

Hagel became the first foreigner to visit the Liaoning on April 7. It was a genuine gesture of China as carriers have always been treated with a symbolic standing in not only military but also a nation's comprehensive strength.

Inviting Hagel to visit the carrier showed China's good faith of building a new-type military relationship with the United States, said Jin. "China is frank and faithful enough to show its sincerity. Now it's Washington's turn to make a gesture."

China-U.S. Consensus on Military Cooperation 

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his visiting U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel reached important consensus on April 8 of military cooperation, including

- develop a new model of military-to-military relations based on the new model of China-U.S. relations to push forward steady and healthy bilateral military ties;

- positively evaluate the development of military-to-military ties and more communication and practical cooperation;

- advance a process of establishing a mutual notification mechanism of major military activities and the standards of behaviors of air and sea safety on high sea, in an effort to achieve substantial results as soon as possible;

- embark on a dialogue mechanism between the two land forces, and discuss about anti-terrorism;

- hold an Asia-Pacific security dialogue between the two defense ministries and exchange views of common concern, the two militaries will have joint medical rescue operations after the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

- continue to strengthen military-to-military cooperation on regional and international issues to maintain the peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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