BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- A senior Chinese general Thursday met with the head of a leading U.S. think tank and discussed the building of strong military ties between the two countries, despite military exchanges between the two nations having been frozen since January.
"A sound and stable China-U.S. military relationship is good for bilateral strategic trust and regional peace and stability," Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Ma Xiaotian told John Hamre, president of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Hamre served as the U.S. deputy secretary of defense during the Clinton administration before joining CSIS in 2000.
Hamre is in China at the invitation of a leading Chinese think tank, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, for an academic symposium.
"China has always attached great importance to developing military ties with the United States and has made efforts in this regard," Ma told Hamre.
"Stronger military-to-military ties will be a very good thing for the two countries...We should have broader and deeper contact," Hamre said.
On growing bilateral military ties, Ma proposed both sides respect each other's core interests and major concerns.
Both sides should also properly handle differences and sensitive issues, Ma added.
Hamre said China's prosperity contributes to the world, adding that the PLA's development is "logical."
The former U.S. defense official said it is necessary for the two militaries to maintain candid communication to keep stable military relations.
Hamre is scheduled to meet with another senior Chinese general, Xu Caihou, next Monday.
As vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Xu delivered a keynote speech at the CSIS last year while visiting the United States.
The meetings between the Chinese generals and Hamre are a rare occurrence as China cut off some military exchange programs with the United States after Pentagon decided in January to sell a nearly 6.4-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China.
Subsequently, none of the high-level military visits outlined in the China-U.S. communique signed in November last year when U.S. President Barack Obama visited China have been possible for the past eight months.
Those planned visits included trips to Beijing by U.S. defense chief Robert Gates and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. A visit to Washington by Chief of General Staff of the Chinese PLA Chen Bingde was also suspended.
On the same day Ma held talks with Hamre, the Chinese foreign ministry said U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon and U.S. National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers will visit China next week.
Donilon and Summers are also scheduled to meet with Chinese General Xu during their stay in Beijing.
"Those U.S. officials' talks with Chinese military leaders reflect the fact the two countries want to keep channels open for defense talks, even though their official military exchanges have stalled," Yang Yi, an strategic expert at China's National Defense University, told Xinhua.
"The suspension of military exchanges does not tally with the state of China-U.S. exchanges in other fields," said Zhu Feng, an international studies professor at Peking University.
Apart from meeting with Chinese generals, Hamre will deliver a speech on broader U.S.-China ties at a seminar in Beijing Saturday.