Military Growth Not a Threat, Says Defense Minister

Chinese state media reports Chinese Defense Minister, Liang Guanglie, met the United States Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, and called for mutual trust between the two countries. This meeting comes amid continuing tensions in the South China Sea, where the US has also played an active role. from Xinhua:

Liang said that China will always advocate an active, sincere and practical attitude with friendliness in order to enhance talks between the two militaries. He added that they should cooperate in areas of mutual interest and manage disparities when conflicts appear.

Noting that the military ties are an important part of the state-to-state relations, Liang called for equality, mutual benefit and practical collaboration while developing a new type of relationship between the two militaries.

Mabus said the U.S. navy will continue to cooperate and exchange with the Chinese side in areas such as counter-piracy and joint drills.

He also expressed the U.S. commitment in developing cooperative partnerships with China.

Despite China’s growing military with its recent successful flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, an increase in its jet engine research budget, and unveiling of a new stealth fighter jet, Mabus said there is no need to ‘worry’ about China’s growth, Reuters adds:

The United States, Japan and many other Southeast Asian states have frequently expressed worries about China’s double-digit defense spending increases and expanding naval reach, saying Beijing’s plans lack transparency.

“There is absolutely no need for that,” Liang told Reuters, when asked about neighbors’ concerns.

“The Chinese military must develop, but there’s no ‘worry’ or ‘fear’ as the outside world says,” he said before a meeting with visiting U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “That’s not what China is about.”

According to AP, there has been a push to increase contact and cooperation between the two countries:

Along with acquiring an aircraft carrier, sophisticated fighter jets, and other modern hardware, China has stepped-up training among the 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army. State media on Tuesday repeatedly showed footage of ground exercises in the Nanjing Military District that faces Taiwan, the U.S.-allied island democracy that China threatens to bring under its control by force if it has to.

However, despite sometimes bellicose attitudes on both sides, there is also a growing push for greater contact and communication to avoid misunderstandings and build trust. Officers from the sides are meeting in China this week for exchanges on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations that will include a simulated coordinated response to an earthquake in a third country.

Chinese and U.S. sailors have also cooperated in training missions and anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.