China, US in talks on military ties amid strained relations


China and US defense officials hold two days of talks in small sign of progress amid continued sharp deterioration in relations

BEIJING – Defense officials from China and the United States held two days of talks in a small sign of progress amid a continuing sharp deterioration in relations.

The secure videoconference held on Tuesday and Wednesday was chaired by Major General Huang Xueping, deputy director of the People’s Liberation Army Office for International Military Cooperation, and the U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Defense. China Michael Chase.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday that the sides “exchanged in-depth views on relations between the two countries and the two armies and on matters of common interest.”

However, he blamed the “continued provocation and containment” of China by the United States for the “considerable difficulties and challenges” between the two armies.

“China’s sovereignty, dignity and fundamental interests do not tolerate any violation,” Wu said at a monthly briefing. “Regarding the relationship between the two armed forces, we welcome communication, welcome cooperation, face differences and oppose coercion.”

In a statement released in Washington, Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners said the meeting was “an important part of the Biden-Harris administration’s continued efforts to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the PRC by maintaining open lines of communication. with the PRC. “

During the talks, he said the two sides held “a frank, in-depth and open discussion on a range of issues.”

“The two sides reaffirmed the consensus to keep the communication channels open. The American side has also clearly indicated its commitment to respect the principles shared with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, ”he said.

China-US relations face the worst strain in decades over Chinese trade, technology, human rights and military activities in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built runways landing gear and other infrastructure on top of artificial islands.

Military-to-military relations have been characterized by deep mistrust, with the United States accusing China of lack of transparency as it massively improves the capabilities of the PLA, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party.

China has been irritated by the Navy sending ships close to the islands it controls in what Washington calls freedom of navigation operations, as well as US support for Taiwan.

The talks also follow revelations that the top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, twice called his Chinese counterpart on October 30 and January 8 to reassure him during the final days of the Trump administration.

Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday he was responding to a “significant level of intelligence” that China was concerned about a US attack. He said such military-to-military communications are essential to prevent war between the great powers that possess nuclear weapons.

China has not commented on the calls.

“China urges the three countries to let go of their cold war mentality and zero-sum game thinking, to revoke the mistaken decision to develop nuclear submarine cooperation,” Wu said.

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