Tokyo: China and the United States remain starkly different on military issues and have a long way to go toward building a trusting relationship, the top US military
officer said on Friday after a bumpy visit to Beijing.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said he believed his talks with Chinese military
leaders were "productive and generally positive." But he added
that efforts to create a working military-to-military
relationship are still young and so far fraught with
"There is a long way to go," he said in a news
conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo, where he is wrapping up
his Asian tour. "Differences between us are still stark."
Mullen`s visit to China was the first of its kind in
four years. It was intended to build on efforts to increase
communications and exchanges between the two in hopes of
easing growing tensions over China`s growing military might
and economic clout in the region.
Mullen said he was pleased he was afforded access to his
counterpart, Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the
People`s Liberation Army, and given a look at some of China`s
technology and bases.
But he said the visit also underscored the wide rift
between the two nations.
In a joint news conference during Mullen`s stay in
China, Chen chided the United States for pouring too much
money into its military in a time of economic recession. He
suggested that fears of a Chinese threat are overstated.
Chen, who made a similar trip to the US in May, stressed
that China remains well behind the United States in military
capability and said its military growth is purely for defense.
Mullen today said he was not convinced.
"It`s too early to say where China is going with all of
this," he said. "They say it`s defensive. We`ll see."
Mullen also said that the activities of the Chinese,
particularly regarding freedom of navigation in the South
China Sea, have served to fuel concerns over its ultimate
intentions, which he said remain opaque.