By Zhao Wei, Sina English
Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday struck a positive note at a joint press conference at the Pentagon, announcing a joint counter-piracy naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden later this year and tentative plans to cooperate in the sensitive realm of cyber security.
Panetta, standing alongside Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, defended the U.S. military's shift in strategic focus to Asia, saying the aim was to help friends develop the ability to confront the mutual challenges they face, and Washington wanted the same kind of ties with Beijing.
"The United States and China are powers in the Pacific and our goal is to establish a constructive relationship for the future," Panetta said. "It is essential for our two nations to communicate effectively on a range of very challenging issues."
Liang, who led a 24-member delegation of top Chinese military officials, discussed cyberspace, nuclear arms, North Korea and other issues of mutual concern during talks with his U.S. counterpart Panetta. Both are aimed at putting the once rocky military-to-military ties on a more stable footing.
Liang invited Panetta to visit China in the second half of the year, which the U.S. defense secretary readily accepted.
At the news conference, Liang, however, rejected suggestions that cyber attacks aimed at the United States were coming directly from China. He said Panetta agreed not all cyber attacks on the United States could be attributed to China and that the two sides have been discussing ways to cooperate on cyber security.
Panetta said it was true that other countries and hackers were involved in cyber attacks on the United States and China.
"But because the United States and China have developed technological capabilities in this arena it's extremely important that we work together to develop ways to avoid any miscalculation or misperception that could lead to crisis," he said.