China's military to strengthen ties with US

Defense Minister Liang Guanglie meets Commander of US Pacific Command Samuel Locklear on Tuesday in Beijing.

Top Chinese military officials on Tuesday pledged to strengthen communication and cooperation with the United States, but also called for proper resolution of the issue of US surveillance flights near China.

Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Ma Xiaotian of the Chinese People's Liberation Army made the remarks during meetings with visiting Commander of US Pacific Command Samuel Locklear.

This visit comes one day before the largest-ever Rim of the Pacific naval exercises, scheduled from Wednesday to Aug 7 in Hawaii. It involves 22 nations, including the US, India and Australia, but not China, which was not invited to participate or observe.

China-US military ties have great potential as overall bilateral relations have been developed in a stable manner, Liang said, adding that establishing new, equal and mutually beneficial military relations is the inevitable need of both militaries and the common expectation from the international community.

China would like to boost military exchanges with the US and deepen cooperation in the fields of non-traditional security, said Ma. "This is in the best interest of both peoples, as well as the region and the whole world."

The two Chinese officers expressed concerns over the US strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific region and its frequent military surveillance close to China's coast. They urged the US to resolve related issues as soon as possible.

As a Pacific country, the US hopes to improve cooperation with all Asia-Pacific countries, including China, said Locklear, and he called for more dialogue and less misunderstanding.

Despite differences over some issues, China and the US share common interests in many fields, and the two militaries should enhance exchanges and cooperation to safeguard such interests and build a safe international environment, he said.

Closer ties between the US and its Asian allies are widely interpreted as a measure to contain China. Shortly after concluding the US joint drill with Japan and the Republic of Korea, Washington is scheduled to kick off the largest-ever Rim of the Pacific naval exercises with 21 other countries on Wednesday.

Russia, India, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand, Norway and Tonga are participating in the exercises for the first time, according to the Stars and Stripes, a Washington-based newspaper.

It is notable that China was not invited to participate or observe the exercises that involve most of the Asia-Pacific countries, analysts said.

"We had 14 countries participate in 2010. We've got 22 this year, so I think that's an indication of the interest that countries have in participating in it and the value they see in this kind of unique training opportunity," Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the US Navy's 3rd Fleet, was quoted as saying.

In 2006, the former head of US Pacific Command William Fallon invited the PLA to observe the exercise "Valiant Shield", said the newspaper.

Professor Li Daguang with the University of National Defense said the exercise echoes the recent statement from US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that US naval power in the Pacific will increase and the US will enhance ties with its allies in the region.

The US carries on bilateral cooperation with China while at the same time continues building a strategic circle to contain China, Li told Beijing-based China News Service.

"I think everyone recognizes that (the maritime security environment) is where either we learn to live and work together, because we do have considerable shared interests, or this is where we get in each other's way and potentially start to stare each other down," Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, told the Stars and Stripes.

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