Senior Chinese and U.S. military officials will exchange visits in 2011, a Chinese Defense Ministry official said here Friday.
The two sides have agreed that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit China from Jan. 10 to Jan. 14, 2011, and Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), will visit the United States at a mutually convenient date in 2011, Guan Youfei, deputy director of the ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, told a press conference.
The news briefing was held after defense consultations between China and the United States on Friday, which was co-chaired by Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the PLA, and U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.
During the talks, the two sides exchanged views on relations between the Chinese and U.S. militaries, maritime safety, national defense building and army building, as well as some international and regional issues. The atmosphere was candid and pragmatic, Guan said.
Guan said the Chinese side attaches importance to Gates' upcoming China visit, and hopes it will deepen mutual understanding of the armed forces of the two sides, expand consensus and contribute to the healthy and stable development of their ties.
Ma and Flournoy agreed that relations between the two armed forces are an integral part of bilateral ties, and it is important to keep it healthy and stable; and that the two countries' militaries should maintain dialogues and exchanges at various levels to enhance mutual understanding and avoid miscalculations.
During the talks, Ma also noted the Sino-U.S. relationship has not only bilateral implications, but increasing global influence. China values the relationship between the two countries' armed forces, and has made sincere efforts to advance it. China is willing to enhance dialogue and exchanges with the United States to promote mutual understanding and trust.
Ma said while the two militaries share a broad range of common interests, there are problems and hurdles in their relationship. He said the main hurdles are U.S. arms sales to China's Taiwan province, Congress' restrictions on military exchanges between the two countries and U.S. air and sea military surveillance operations in China's exclusive economic zones.
Ma said in order to keep the military-to-military ties on a stable development track, both sides need to build their relationship on the principles of mutual respect, mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit. To that end, they need to respect each other's core interests and major concerns, properly handle differences and sensitive issues, continuously foster and increase mutual strategic trust, and consolidate and expand common interests.
Flournoy told Ma that a consistent and stable military relationship between the two countries is important in maintaining a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship between the two nations.
She said the U.S. side is willing to further develop and enhance the military relationship between the two countries.
At a Pentagon news briefing on the same day, Flournoy said she and Ma had a "very candid and frank and productive exchange of views."