A new model for U.S.-China military-to-military relations was revelead yesterday in Beijing.
The U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit, at the invitation of Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan, to Beijing comes in the middle of a 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region, during which he visited Japan and will travel to Mongolia later this week. The trip began in Hawaii with the first meeting for defense ministers of the 10 member countries of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations to be held in the United States.
“One focus of our discussion today (April 8) was how we develop a new model of military-to-military relations,” Hagel said about his meeting with Chang.
Hagel explained that the United States believes its approach should be to build a sustained and substantive dialogue, deepen practical cooperation in areas of common interest, and manage competition and differences through openness and communication.
“As General Chang announced, we agreed today on several new ways to improve our military-to-military relationship,” Hagel said. First, the U.S. and Chinese defense agencies will establish an army-to-army dialogue as an institutionalized mechanism within the framework of the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship.
Second, the secretary added, “we agreed to participate in a joint military-medical cooperative activity. This will build on experiences gained at the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercise, a U.S.-hosted multilateral naval exercise that China will participate in for the first time this summer.”
Third, Hagel said, the defense agencies will establish an Asia-Pacific security dialogue between the assistant secretary of defense for Asia-Pacific security affairs and the director of the Chinese Defense Ministry’s foreign affairs office to exchange views on a range of security issues.
“This dialogue will build on the discussions Gen. Chong and I had today on regional security issues,” the secretary said, “including North Korea and the growing threat posed by its nuclear and missile programs.”
Hagel added that continued instability in Northeast Asia is not in China’s interest, and that the United States is deeply concerned about the threat North Korea poses to U.S. treaty allies and, increasingly, to the homeland.
“The United States and China have a shared interest in achieving a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
Hagel and Chang also discussed tensions in the East and South China seas.
“I underscored that all parties should refrain from provocative actions and the use of intimidation, coercion or aggression to advance their claims,” the secretary said. “Such disputes must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.”
Hagel noted that he toured China’s aircraft carrier, met personnel aboard the ship and had an opportunity to listen.
Regarding cybersecurity, Hagel emphasized the need for the United States and China to be more open about each other’s capabilities and intentions in this critically important domain.
Press Release, April 9, 2014, Image: US DoD