De­fense chief’s US visit sig­nals con­sen­sus

De­spite fric­tions, bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary ties re­main sta­ble: an­a­lysts

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Guo Yuan­dan and Leng Shumei

The Chi­nese de­fense min­is­ter’s visit to the US is aimed at en­hanc­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion amid trade fric­tion and main­tain­ing sta­bil­ity of bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary ties, Chi­nese an­a­lysts said on Thurs­day.

China’s Na­tional De­fense Min­istry an­nounced on Thurs­day that Min­is­ter Wei Fenghe left for the US and will at­tend the se­cond bi­lat­eral diplo­matic and se­cu­rity di­a­logue on Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton.

It will be Wei’s third meet­ing with US De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis in five months.

An­a­lysts noted that de­spite fric­tions, China-US mil­i­tary ties re­main sta­ble. The visit sends a sig­nal that China hopes to pro­mote bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

Fre­quent meet­ings in­di­cate that it is the con­sen­sus be­tween the two sides that strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion is im­por­tant amid fric­tions, Li Haidong, a pro­fes­sor at the China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thurs­day.

Li said Wei’s visit and the di­a­logue are aimed at “pre­par­ing a fa­vor­able at­mos­phere” for the meet­ing be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the up­com­ing G20 sum­mit in Buenos Aires.

“Wei will fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem with the US on some sen­si­tive is­sues, in­clud­ing the South China Sea is­sue, to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ing and fric­tion,” Li said.

A Beijing mil­i­tary ex­pert who re­quested anonymity told the Global Times on Thurs­day that “China and the US will strengthen con­sen­sus on cri­sis con­trol and en­hance co­op­er­a­tion on the di­a­logue mech­a­nism, joint train­ing, aca­demic com­mu­ni­ca­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance.”

The US should re­spect China’s core in­ter­ests and ma­jor con­cerns, and deal with di­ver­gence on the ba­sis of mu­tual re­spect, the ex­pert said, stress­ing that the Chi­nese mil­i­tary is de­ter­mined to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity and main­tain re­gional sta­bil­ity.

Li added that fric­tion has pre­vailed be­tween the two coun­tries since July when the US launched a trade war against China.

On Oc­to­ber 4, US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence crit­i­cized Chi­nese mil­i­tary ex­pen­di­ture, claim­ing that it was as much as the rest of Asia com­bined, and that China in­tends to “mil­i­ta­rize the South China Sea” in a speech at the Hud­son In­sti­tute.

Pence’s re­marks came about half a month after the US State De­part­ment im­posed sanc­tions on China’s Equip­ment De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment and its di­rec­tor, Li Shangfu, for vi­o­lat­ing the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act.

China’s for­eign min­istry hit back, say­ing that China has indis­putable sovereignty over South China Sea is­lands and their ad­ja­cent wa­ters, and that in­stalling na­tional de­fense fa­cil­i­ties on the Nan­sha Is­lands, which are Chi­nese ter­ri­tory, is China ex­er­cis­ing its right of self-de­fense as a sov­er­eign state in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional laws, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

An­other anony­mous mil­i­tary ex­pert in Beijing also told the Global Times on Thurs­day that Wei’s visit could be key to re­solv­ing is­sues be­tween the mil­i­taries of China and the US.

“The US should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­cent mil­i­tary fric­tion be­tween the two coun­tries. And China con­demns provoca­tive acts by the US and in­sists on co­op­er­a­tion.”

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