U.S., China Military Chiefs Take Steps Toward Thaw

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, concluded his four-day trip to China after inspecting several military facilities. The visit was a symbolic step toward rebuilding military relations between the two countries. The Wall Street Journal reports on the rare visit:

The whistle-stop tour of military facilities is an important component of the delicate choreography between the two sides as they try to build what they call “strategic trust,” while also learning more about each other’s capabilities and ways of operating. When Adm. Mullen’s Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chen Bingde, visited the U.S. in May, he was also taken to several U.S. bases.

Military officials from both countries acknowledge the need for openness. From NPR:

As cicadas buzzed in the background, Col. Yang Yujun from China’s Ministry of Defense Information Office offered his own reading of the military press conference. It was — you might paraphrase — the tough-love defense: He saw the outspoken criticism as a sign of closeness, not distance. “I don’t believe that between enemies they could speak [that] frankly, because they may try to guard against the others, so they could not tell all the truth. But only between friends they could speak so frankly,” Yang said.

Both parties agreed to further military relations with subsequent visits this year. From Xinhua News Agency:

In addition to their general commitment to stepping up military-to-military relations, Mullen and Chen also agreed on several specific exchange plans during their talks.

The commander of one of the PLA’s military regions will visit the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command in the third quarter of this year, while the U.S. commander-in-chief of the Pacific Command will visit China before the end of the year, according to a press release issued after the talks.

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