China and U.S. agree on new bilateral military relationship. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Washington is committed to a “positive and constructive relationship with China.”
He said a sustained military-to-military relationship is “an important pillar” between the two countries.
Previously, Hagel had met for the first time with China’s Minister of National Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan at the Pentagon Monday, Aug. 19. He was presiding over a Pentagon making a deliberate “pivot” to Asia after more than a decade of wars in the greater Middle East, and improving ties with China is at the heart of the Obama administration’s Asia strategy.
Hagel also tackled a familiar agenda marked with tensions over US missile defenses, Chinese cyberattacks, and other defense issues during the said meeting.
Hagel’s counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, said Beijing wants to work on a defense relationship with the U.S., to “elevate it to a new height.” But he said it must not be “a relation dominated by either side.”
Chang and Hagel both spoke hopefully of building greater trust between the two nations’ militaries and chipping away at long-held suspicions. But Chang in particular cautioned against mistaking his country’s friendliness for weakness.
“No one should fantasize that China would barter away our core interests, and no one should underestimate our will and determination in defending our territory, sovereignty and maritime rights,” Chang said through an interpreter.
Hagel alluded to these tensions, saying in a prepared statement that while the U.S. does not take sides in territorial claims, it encourages all parties to avoid allowing tensions to escalate into armed conflict according to report.