China wants to increase military exchanges, but US rethinks plans for further ties

Troops march ahead of President Obama’s arrival in Beijing in November.

Troops march ahead of President Obama’s arrival in Beijing in November.

Before the US began to adopt its pivot to Asia to contain China, China was an active US supporter in many events. A typical example was its support for the UN resolution on Libya in spite of the heavy loss it might suffer and actually suffered later. US Libya move in fact contained Russia, but Russia dared not veto as it was isolated at that time.

However, in spite of China’s hard efforts to please the US, the China believes the US is jealous of China’s quick rise in strength, and has adopted its policy of pivot to Asia to contain China. In my previous posts, I regarded China as an unrequited lover of the US.

Now, the US is suffering a setback in the Middle East. Despite the huge expense and great casualties it has suffered in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamic extremists have grown stronger than ever while the US is unable to send ground troops to defeat them.

In Ukraine, Russia has stepped up its military operations in disregard of Western sanctions that according to US president Obama have put the Russian economy in tatters. The US is utterly incapable of giving Ukraine military support as Russia has threatened it with nuclear war.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, however, does not take advantage of the US predicament. Instead, he seeks good relations with the US because he knows that one should avoid having any enemy, especially a strong enemy. Moreover, China benefits and will further benefit from its good relations with the US.

True, China is conducting an arms race with the US, but that is aimed at having the force of deterrence to prevent a war with the US that may be caused by US interference with China’s disputes with its neighbours.

According to SCMP report “China to increase military exchanges, says President Xi, but US rethinks plans for further ties”, Xi’s attempt met cold response as the US is rethinking expansion of its ties with China until rules for airborne encounters are agreed, which means China has to first accept US condition on allowing US aircraft to conduct reconnaissance close to Chinese coast?


Does Chinese military deployment along its coast  threaten the safety of the US that lies thousands of miles away from China?

Does the US want to do so in order to protect its allies Japan and the Philippines? Letting Japan and the Philippines conduct the reconnaissance would be a better alternative.

The real reason: China cynically views the US as the world overlord that must have the freedom to watch others close to their coasts.

The US overlord may say: The US allows China the freedom to watch it close to its coasts. Will the US really be happy that China watches it close to its shore? Even if that is true, that is an asymmetric equality. The US has lots of military bases near China to facilitate such reconnaissance while China has no military bases at all to enable it to do so.

The following are the full texts of SCMP and Wall Street Journal’s reports on Chinese efforts and US rejection:

The SCMP report:

China to increase military exchanges, says President Xi, but US rethinks plans for further ties

Pledge by president coincides with report suggesting US is rethinking expansion of ties until rules for airborne encounters are agreed

President Xi Jinping vowed to step up military exchanges with other nations yesterday, but there were reports that the Pentagon had decided against increasing interaction with the People’s Liberation Army.

In a meeting with military officers in Beijing, Xi, also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, said exchanges played a significant role in national security and that military authorities should stick to the Communist Party’s “absolute leadership” in exchanges with other nations.

Xi’s remarks coincided with a Wall Street Journal report that the Pentagon had put on hold efforts to expand major military exchanges with the PLA until the two countries could agree on rules for airborne encounters.

The report cited Republican congressman Randy Forbes as saying that the Pentagon had been pushing exchanges without clearly stating what they hoped to achieve, and were potentially emboldening the PLA by giving it insight into the US Army.

The report said the new stance, which would not affect existing exchanges, reflected concerns in the US that expanded defence ties over the past 18 months had not stopped China from pushing its territorial claims in Asia. It said the Pentagon had decided to defer sending an aircraft carrier to China, a visit proposed by both countries last year.

Defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the report was “confusing” and that exchanges between the two militaries had “good momentum”.

He said attempts had been made to improve trust and that talks on a code of conduct for naval and air encounters were under way.

Mainland observers said there was still a lack of trust.

“The US congressmen always complain that the Pentagon shares too much military information with the PLA, while the Chinese army only gives them a glimpse of its achievements on military modernisation,” said Jin Canrong , an international relations specialist at Renmin University.

Retired naval senior colonel Li Jie said Beijing could understand the Pentagon’s decision as Sino-US exchanges made notable breakthroughs last year and it would be hard to expand them further this year.

Ni Lexiong , a Shanghai-based military expert, said Xi wanted military officers to part with the traditions of diplomats.

“Chinese diplomatic officials are known for their passiveness because many of them just stay in embassy buildings and keep their distance from local communities,” Ni said. “Such a tradition was caused by a fear of being recruited by foreign intelligence agencies.”

The PLA Daily also said that in the past two years, the army’s auditor handed over 4,024 senior officials to graft-busters, more than in the previous 30 years.

Additional reporting by Amy Li

Wall Street Journal’s report:

Pentagon Pauses New Exchanges With China

Decision Delayed Until Washington and Beijing Can Agree on Rules for Encounters Between Warplanes

The Pentagon put on hold an effort to expand defence ties with China, saying it wouldn’t agree to a major new military exchange until the two countries can agree on rules for airborne encounters between their warplanes.

The delay, which doesn’t affect existing military-to-military exchanges, reflects concerns among some U.S. politicians and military officials that an expansion of defence ties with Beijing over the past 18 months hasn’t stopped China from trying to enforce its territorial claims in Asia.

Top U.S. and Chinese naval officials had proposed the U.S. send an aircraft carrier on a visit to China, but Pentagon officials have deferred any decision until work on an air-intercepts agreement is complete, officials said.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va), who leads a House subcommittee on sea power, has said the Pentagon has been pushing military exchanges without clearly stating what they hope to achieve with the exchanges.

“We think if you are going to do military-to-military exchanges, you should have strategic goals for why we are doing it,” he said.

Mr. Forbes added that military exchanges with China risk sharing too much information, potentially including critical elements of U.S. military strategy. “It gives them a better understanding how we might react in a situation and so it may embolden them more,” he said.

In a letter to Mr. Forbes this month, Pentagon officials defended their approach, saying it has “elements of cooperation and competition.”

“U.S. policy toward China is based on the premise that it is profoundly in both countries’ interest that we develop a cooperative relationship that brings a rising China into that system while constructively managing the differences between our two countries,” wrote Christine Wormuth, the Undersecretary of Defence for policy, in the letter to Mr. Forbes.

Defence officials said they have a vetting process in place to ensure that sensitive information isn’t shared during military exchanges with China. One official said the delay in the carrier decision was an example of how the Pentagon is following the approach advocated by Mr. Forbes.

Leaders of both countries have pushed for expanded military ties and improved communications. That objective was a key part of the deal the administration reached with Beijing during President Barack Obama ’s trip to China in November.

During that visit, Chinese and U.S. officials announced an agreement designed to prevent confrontations at sea, with a new set of rules for maritime encounters. The agreement followed a 2013 incident when a Chinese ship came within 100 feet of the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, in the South China Sea. China said its ship followed proper procedures.

Officials said at the time that the maritime agreement would be followed by one covering air-to-air engagements, which have been a source of friction, including an August encounter when the Pentagon said a Chinese fighter plane came within 50 feet of a Navy P-8 surveillance plane. China said its pilot kept a safe distance. It also demanded that the U.S. stop surveillance flights near its coastline.

U.S. officials remain hopeful a deal will be possible this year, but said that reaching an agreement on rules for air incidents is more complicated than the maritime agreement.

Some agree a better understanding of Washington’s China strategy is needed. “Everyone is accusing people of being off the reservation. But we need to know where the fence line for the reservation is,” said a defence official.

The Pentagon is beginning work on a new report mandated by Congress last month to lay out its military strategy in Asia. The defence official said that will amount to a clearly stated approach to China, and should address Mr. Forbes’s concerns.

Officials said that a continuation of military-to-military exchanges between China and the U.S. would remain a cornerstone of the American approach to maintaining stability in Asia.

“The option of ignoring each other is not a grown-up option,” the defence official said. “Everything has to be done for a reason, and is. We aren’t doing things just to do them.”

China’s defence ministry didn’t respond to a request to comment on planned exchanges this year, including the carrier visit and the air-encounter agreement.

Asked about the plans for a carrier visit for China, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a Pentagon spokesman, said he wouldn’t comment on internal decision-making but that the military would “publicise our decision in the established manner.”

While the decision on the aircraft carrier is on hold, other smaller exchanges are continuing, officials said. This month, 38 U.S. personnel and 50 Chinese service members participated in a humanitarian relief exercise in Hainan Island.

Hainan is where a Navy P-3 plane landed after it was disabled in a midair collision with a Chinese fighter jet in 2001.

Source: SCMP “China to increase military exchanges, says President Xi, but US rethinks plans for further ties”
Source: Wall Street Journal “Pentagon Pauses New Exchanges With China”


Categories: Defence & Aerospace

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5 replies


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