Mil­i­tary visit un­der­lines power of talk

An in­crease in trans­parency is vi­tal to bol­ster­ing trust and re­duc­ing mis­un­der­stand­ings

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

The visit to the US by a del­e­ga­tion led by Chi­nese Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion Vice-Chair­man Fan Chang­long that be­gan last week il­lus­trates the ma­tur­ing China-US mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship.

It is also an im­por­tant step in build­ing a new kind of mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship that con­forms to the “new model of ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tions” high­lighted in the first white pa­per on mil­i­tary strat­egy that Bei­jing is­sued re­cently.

Fan’s visit has two fo­cuses. First, the US has ar­ranged for him to visit three mil­i­tary bases (army, navy and marines), the air­craft car­rier USS Ron­ald Rea­gan and a Boe­ing fac­tory, the most com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram for a Chi­nese high-level mil­i­tary visit to the US in re­cent years.

It demon­strates the grow­ing trust in China-US mil­i­tary re­la­tions, a sphere in which there has long been a dis­tinct lack of trust, which has added to a gen­eral lack of trust on both sides.

It is thus vi­tal that there be more trans­parency in mil­i­tary mat­ters be­tween the two coun­tries, which can only in­crease this good­will and trust, and re­duce the chances of misun­der­stand­ing and mis­judg­ments. It would also help bring to fruition this new model of ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tions, one free of con­flict.

Sec­ond, as Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pre­pares to visit the US in three months, China and the US are deal­ing with is­sues squarely, in par­tic­u­lar China’s con­struc­tion work on reefs and islets in the South China Sea.

Last month, a US navy an­ti­sub­ma­rine and sur­veil­lance air­craft flew over wa­ters off China’s Nan­sha Is­lands, and US De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter said his coun­try was “deeply con­cerned” about China’s land recla­ma­tion, and urged it to stop con­struc­tion.

In re­cent months, the US gov­ern­ment has been lev­el­ing spu­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions against China on cy­ber­se­cu­rity is­sues. At the be­gin­ning of last month US media re­ported that per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of 4 mil­lion US fed­eral work­ers was hacked, and that it was sus­pected that the at­tack orig­i­nated in China.

It seems that China and the US will have a hard time to com­pro­mise in such dis­putes, and de­bates and quar­rels are al­most in­evitable.

The ex­is­tence of such dif­fer­ent points of view makes com­mu­ni­cat­ing all the more nec­es­sary. Avoid­ing dis­cussing is­sues can only cre­ate sus­pi­cion. Open and straight­for­ward di­a­logue, on the other hand, can pre­vent crises and help man­age risks that are prone to flare up into brush fires, with the de­struc­tive power to bi­lat­eral ties that this can bring. The au­thor is a mil­i­tary spe­cial­ist and se­nior colonel from the PLA’s Sec­ond Ar­tillery Com­mand Col­lege.


Fan Chang­long,

Shao Yongling

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