China-US military: agree to disagree

By Han Bin | CCTV

ON THE WEB, 10 April 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping has met with visiting US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel in Beijing. After the meeting on Wednesday, Xi Jinping expressed his hopes that the new model of military to military relations, envisioned by him and his counterpart Barack Obama, will continue to develop.

For his part, Hagel said he engaged in frank and constructive talks during his visit. But he also made some strong remarks on many issues. As our reporter Han Bin found out, healthy and stable relations remains a challenging goal for both countries.

A highly symbolic sign of closer US-China ties

After all the “tough talk” with his Chinese counterparts during his trip to China, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We have attached great value to your visit. I wish your visit will help advance the new model of military to military relations.” Xi Jinping said.

Xi Jinping said the frequent high level exchanges between the US and China, will guarantee that the relationship heads in the right direction.

Hagel’s trip to China mainly focused on clarifying policies about the US’ pivot toward the Asia Pacific region, and developing the new model of military to military relations.

“It will require both leadership deepen cooperation in areas of shared interests, work constructively managing differences, through open dialogue, transparency and candid,” Chuck Hagel said.

China sees the core of this model as avoiding conflict.

“The competition between China and the US is not a zero sum game, nor is it containment. Instead, the two sides should review relations from a new perspective, and work to open up a cooperative situation with win-win results,” Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan said.

But Hagel is one of the few American officials who has openly criticised China while visiting the country. He urged China to solve maritime disputes using international law, and make its military intentions more transparent.

Relations could be put to the test, as China and the US have overlapping interests in the Asia-Pacific. The US hopes to keep its dominance in the region, while China has been adamant about its sovereignty rights.

“On this issue, we will make no compromises or concessions or trades, not even a tiny bit of violation will be allowed,” Chang Wanquan said.

Hagel has called for practical cooperation between China and the US, and greater personnel interaction. To demonstrate, he went to a PLA logistics school for non-commissioned officers in suburb Beijing. It was the first time the school has received a US defence secretary.

But as a former sergeant in the US Army, the Defense Secretary is accustomed to talking directly with enlisted soldiers. And he brought this experience to China, sitting down to dinner with some Chinese cadets.

These young soldiers could be future commanders, who Hagel believes will play a crucial role in China-US relations.

Hagel’s visit has been marked with unusual straightforwardness on differences. His hard tone during the talks may reflect growing US concern about China’s development and intentions. And he raises more questions than solutions. All this, and the facts of China US confrontations, is exactly why it’s vital for the two sides to keep the dialogue going.

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