Mon, February 16, 2009
China > China & World

China, US to restart military dialogue

2009-02-16 00:20:20 GMT2009-02-16 08:20:20 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

The mainland and the US will resume their military talks with a defense policy dialogue in Beijing on Feb 27-28, both countries' officials have said.

The dialogue between the countries' senior military officers was postponed in November after the former George W. Bush administration announced in October to sell $6.5 billion worth of arms to Taiwan despite the mainland's protest.

The dialogue will be informal, Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming said yesterday.

The talks, a routine yearly meeting between Washington and Beijing since 1997, is likely to be hosted by a US deputy defense minister and a deputy chief of the mainland's army, military analysts said.

Japan's Kyodo News Agency quoted a US Defense Department official as having said over the weekend that David Sedney, US assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, will lead the US team at the talks.

The talks will focus on the expansion of bilateral military cooperation and joint implementation of measures to address security concerns across the world, especially in East Asia, the official said.

"The (Barack) Obama administration has set a positive tone to work with the mainland," said Rear Admiral Yang Yi, senior military expert with the University of National Defense. "So the US Defense Department must have worked closely with the State Department to schedule the dialogue right after Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit."

"If one sees the dialogue from this perspective, it is not just about the military (because) it indicates that defense policies will play a vital role in bilateral ties in the near future," Yang said.

On the eve of her first overseas tour as secretary of state, Clinton said her administration would use "smart power" to work with historic allies and emerging countries in order to find regional and global solutions to common global problems.

"And we look forward to improved relations across the Straits," Clinton said while addressing a gathering of Asia Society in New York.

She said the US and the mainland would resume mid-level military discussions by this month. She will arrive in Beijing on Friday to discuss the global financial crisis, regional security and climate change.

Military talks are usually the first to be called off during strained Sino-US ties and are last to resume after normalization, analysts said. And this time it is no exception.

The Obama administration, which has asked Robert Gates to continue as the defense secretary, is clear that the US and the mainland have common interests in key areas, said Luo Yuan, a military expert with the Academy of Military Science.

"Since the security situation across the Straits has taken a significant and positive turn, the two militaries can discuss more far-reaching issues, including non-traditional security," Luo said. "It's a great time to start real dialogue."

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