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Positive signs from Sino-US military exchanges
Latest Updated by 2006-06-28 09:36:25
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The United States recently ran their "Valiant Shield 2006" military exercises in Guam, the largest US Pacific Command exercise in the last ten years. For the first time, at the invitation of the US military, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) sent officers to observe proceedings. This exchange between China and the US is a positive signal, which bears significance beyond the military.

A Sino-US military tie is an important component of the development of relations between the two countries. China has always maintained a positive attitude. In recent years, bilateral military relations between China and the US have been gradually restored and are gathering momentum. Visits and exchanges between high-level military academies and institutions have taken place. It was in this context that Admiral Fallon, Head of US Pacific Command, invited the Chinese military to observe the military exercises during his visit to China in May. The Chinese military is now considering inviting the US to observe their military exercises at the same level.

During the military exercises held in Guam, the Chinese mission had the opportunity to observe B-2 strategic bombers, AGM-86C air-launched cruise missiles and other advanced equipment. They also boarded three carrier ships, watched all ship-based aircrafts at close range, and visited operational air traffic control rooms and command rooms. The exercises were unclassified so no state secrets were disclosed. The inclusion of the Chinese military in this US military exercise indicates the common aspirations of the two countries in expanding bilateral military exchanges and developing mutual trust. However, there are still many obstacles to be overcome in Sino-US military exchanges.

At present, the biggest obstacle to Sino-US military exchanges is the US' propagation of the so-called "China military threat" and its definition of China as its largest potential military opponent. The argument is without foundation. China gives no cause for such concern, developing its national defense force in line with its economic development. It will not threaten any country, let alone the United States as a military superpower. However, the existence of this erroneous argument hinders more substantive Sino-US military cooperation in the areas of personnel training, command skills and equipment exchanges.

Another issue in Sino-US military exchange is that the United States blindly accuses the Chinese military of being "opaque". Absolutely transparency can never exist in a military force. The same logic applies to the military exercises the Chinese recently observed in Guam. In recent years, the Chinese military has made great efforts to improve its transparency. More and more Chinese officers and soldiers have left the country and participated in peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, counter-terrorism and international affairs task forces. They have also carried out extensive multilateral military exchanges and taken action to build a transparent and peace-loving image. In addition, the Chinese military has become more open-minded and invited more and more foreign armies to visit China. For example, the Chinese military has invited the United States to observe military exercises held within China a number of times. When US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited China in last October, he did not expect the Chinese military to give him access to a number of such important areas.

The key to expanding military exchange is sincerity. On the one hand, the US hopes that China will become a responsible stakeholder and a constructive power in the international community. On the other hand, it propagates various versions of the "China threat theory", which is not conducive to the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations, including Sino-US military relations.

"To increase trust, reduce trouble, and develop cooperation rather than confrontation" is the guiding principle in Sino-US relations as well as Sino-US military exchanges. To eliminate mistrust and misunderstanding China and the US must increase military exchanges, deepen mutual understanding, dispel prejudice and doubts, find more common ground, and promote cooperation. Only then can Sino-US military interaction become substantive instead of purely symbolic.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: People's Daily website
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