U.S., China to expand military exchanges amid rows over cyber security, territory

WASHINGTON Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:48pm EDT

1 of 5. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and China's Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan speak at a joint news conference following their meeting at the Pentagon in Washington August 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and China agreed on Monday to expand military exchanges and exercises as part of efforts to build more stable ties, despite tensions over cyber security and East Asian territorial disputes.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan spelled out plans this year for senior American officers to visit China, counter-piracy drills in waters near Somalia and a humanitarian rescue exercise near Hawaii.

Their talks at the Pentagon represent efforts by Washington and Beijing to find constructive ways to deal with strains over reported Chinese cyber-attacks against U.S. government agencies and businesses. There are also growing concerns about China's assertiveness in territorial disputes with U.S. allies in Asia, notably Japan and the Philippines.

Hagel said he and Chang wanted to build "a sustained, substantive military-to-military relationship" to bolster ties between the world's two biggest economies.

"Our goal is to build trust between our militaries through cooperation," Hagel told reporters.

Chang stressed a similar theme of cooperation with the United States in the Asia-Pacific, but also voiced concern about the U.S. policy of shoring up its military presence and revitalizing its alliances in the Pacific region.

"To a certain degree, these kinds of intensified military activities further complicated the situation in the region," the Chinese general said through an interpreter. "We hope that this strategy does not target a specific country in the region."

Without mentioning rival claimants in disputes over maritime sovereignty in the South China Sea and East China Sea, Chang said "no one should underestimate our will and determination in defending our territory, sovereignty, and maritime rights."

Hagel repeated Washington's official position that it takes no stance on East Asian maritime sovereignty questions, but insists the disputes be addressed without the use of force.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh will visit China this year, and Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of China's navy, will travel to the United States, Hagel said.

The planned exchanges for 2013 will be followed next year by Hagel's first visit to China as Pentagon chief and China's maiden participation in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), which is hosted by the United States and billed as the world's largest international maritime warfare drill.

(Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (3)
halseyjr wrote:
Please forgive the unedited/incomplete post previously posted. This computer is failing to perform properly.
To continue on my unedited thought, I am not ‘anti-Chinese’. I do have concerns about China’s rapid rise as a economic and military superpower. China is determined to be the world’s dominant power and is successfully achieving this without ‘firing a shot’ but rather economically which is assisting China is rapid modernization of it’s armed forces.
The time has come for cooperation between the two countries and I fully support cooperation but the reality is, as China gains significant strength and influence world-wide, it is the US that will have to take the ‘second seat’ in US/China cooperation

Aug 19, 2013 9:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pucini wrote:
This latest development is extremely positive not only for both US and China relations, but for the world as a whole, especially the joint exercises in anti-piracy drills. I am sure the maturing relationship between both countries, ranked No.1 and No.2 in the world largest economies will herald a new era in Superpower relations, drastically departing from the Cold War mentality of the Soviet era. Kudos to the leaders of both the US and China for thinking out of the box and embracing change for the better of mankind.

Aug 19, 2013 9:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Doc00001 wrote:
Holy cow!! Has anyone ever looked into the history of the world and failed to perceive the intrigue and opportunism? The Chinese have a proven ability to capitalize on the folly of it’s opponents. To say nothing of the Asian lack of respect for life. In Korea, they buried Americans under the weight of dead Chinese troops. Some method, eh? They have already undermined America economically by taking advantage of our greed. Next, remove the military advantages we possess so as to limit choices and diplomatic wherewithal.

Aug 20, 2013 9:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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