Pentagon, China says no change in military exchanges

Updated: 2015-01-30 09:09

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington(China Daily USA)

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The US Defense Department and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday that US policy and military-to-military engagement strategy with China has not changed, contrary to a media report that said the Pentagon wouldn't agree to a major new military exchange until the two countries can agree on rules for airborne encounters between their warplanes.

"Our military-to-military ties with China have sustained positive momentum, and are beginning to demonstrate positive outcomes. Our actions speak for themselves," Pentagon spokesman Jeffrey Pool told China Daily on Thursday. He noted that Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Helvey will host Rear Admiral Li Ji, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense Foreign Affairs Office, in the Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT) at the Pentagon on Feb 5.

Pool's comments were in response to a story in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday under the headline "US Pauses New China Exchanges". The story did not cite sources for its report or contain comment from the Pentagon. The story said the delay does not affect existing military-to-military exchanges.

In Beijing, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun described the newspaper report as "unbelievable".

The Journal did not immediately respond to a request for comment from China Daily.

The newspaper story cited Randy Forbes, a Republican Congressman from Virginia who leads a House subcommittee on sea power, as having said that the Pentagon has pushed the military exchanges without clearly saying what they hope to achieve.

The newspaper quoted Undersecretary of Defense Christine Wormuth as saying in a letter to Forbes that "US policy toward China is based on the premise that it is profoundly in both countries' interest that we develop a cooperative relationship that brings a rising China into that system while constructively managing the differences between our two countries."

Yang, China's National Defense spokesman, told a briefing on Wednesday that the two countries achieved positive results in 2014 in building a new type of military-to-military relationship compatible with the new type of major-country relationship, citing new progress of increasing high-level exchange of visit, joint training and exercises and other institutionalized exchange programs.

During US President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing last November, the two countries signed memorandums of understanding on establishing confidence-building mechanism, including air and sea encounters and notification of major military activities.Yang described the two MOUs as "new highlight in the China-US bilateral military ties".

He said such good momentum has been maintained this year, citing the joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training conducted in Guangzhou and Haikou and the 10th Disaster Management Exchange from Jan 12-19 as witnessed by General Vincent Brooks, commanding general of US Army Pacific.

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