Washington: Noting that the US and China are both Pacific powers and their relationship is one of the most critical in the world, the Defence Ministers of two countries - meeting for the first time in Washington in nine years - have committed themselves to a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous military to military relationship.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and his Chinese counterpart General Liang Guanglie made the pledge of their commitment during the joint conference at the Pentagon after their meeting.
"In my meeting with General Liang, I expressed my commitment to achieving and maintaining a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous mil-to-mil relationship with China," Panetta told reporters at a joint news conference.
Panetta said he looks forward to travelling to China in the next few months.
"The US and China are both Pacific powers, and our relationship is one of the most critical in the world. We share many interests across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, from humanitarian assistance to concerns about weapons of mass destruction to terrorism to drug interdictions to trade to counter piracy," he said.
As such he argued, it is essential that the two nations to communicate effectively on a range of very challenging issues.
Panetta said the US and China had already worked together in a variety of areas and they were expanding their cooperation, particularly in areas of peacekeeping, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and counter piracy.
"We recognise that the US and China will not always agree on every issue. But we believe our military-to-military dialogue is critical to ensuring that we avoid dangerous misunderstandings and misperceptions that could lead to crisis.”
"A positive, cooperative, comprehensive United States-China relationship is absolutely essential to achieving a secure Asia-Pacific region and a more secure future for both of our nations," Panetta said. Liang said he had a meeting with Panetta in an atmosphere of candidness and friendship.
"Both sides reaffirmed the China-US military-to-military relationship as an essential component of bilateral relations, and have committed to building a sound, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship in accordance with President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama's shared vision for a China-US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit," he said.
Liang said that both sides reaffirmed the need for a continuous strategic communication and upheld that the two sides should enhance strategic mutual trust through dialogues and consultations and properly handle differences and sensitive issues.
He said both sides would continue to take advantage of the defence consultative talks, the defence policy coordination talks, and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement and the defence telephone link as important channels to deepen understanding, expand consensus, improve mutual trust and reduce differences.
The two countries, he said, agreed that the two militaries should continue to strengthen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation at all levels and across all areas, with a view to expanding common interests.
China and the US, he said, acknowledge that the security situation in the Asia- Pacific region has been complicated and that cooperation in security areas is conducive to peace and stability of the region and serves each other's fundamental interests.
"In response to the full range of security threats and challenges, the two militaries should further advance exchanges and cooperation on nontraditional security front. Both sides agreed to conduct joint exercises on HADR and counter piracy this year," he said.
"At present, China-US bilateral relationship is on a new starting line in history to build a new type of China-US military relationship based on equality, cooperation and mutual benefit which is in accordance with the level of China-US cooperative partnership.”
"It's the common responsibility of the defence departments of both countries and the common aspiration of global and regional countries," Liang said.
First Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 13:35