USA — Pentagon Officials Explore Renewed Relations With China

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2010 — Defense Depart­ment offi­cials are encour­aged by signs that the Chi­nese may renew mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions in advance of pres­i­den­tial talks between the two coun­tries ear­ly next year, the Pen­ta­gon press sec­re­tary said today.

Geoff Mor­rell said Pen­ta­gon lead­ers are encour­aged by reports from the White House that Chi­nese offi­cials sig­naled their inter­est in resum­ing mil­i­tary rela­tions to the administration’s eco­nom­ic del­e­ga­tion dur­ing a vis­it to Bei­jing this week.

“The Chi­nese have clear­ly sig­naled their inter­est in resum­ing mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary dis­cus­sions, and we are right now explor­ing how best to do that,” Mor­rell said dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon press brief­ing.

Chi­na halt­ed its mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions with the Unit­ed States in Feb­ru­ary in protest of a U.S. arms ship­ment to Tai­wan.

A meet­ing is planned between U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao ear­ly next year, “so we very much would like to make progress before the end of the year,” Mor­rell said. Mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions, he said, help the two coun­tries avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings, mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and mis­cal­cu­la­tions.

It is pos­si­ble that Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates would meet with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part if invit­ed, Mor­rell said in answer to a Chi­nese reporter’s ques­tion. But he added, “This is not engage­ment for the sake of engage­ment. We’re not just look­ing for a rec­i­p­ro­cal vis­it by Sec­re­tary Gates. What we are look­ing for is a resump­tion of pro­duc­tive, trans­par­ent, mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary engage­ment, so that we can both gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what our ambi­tions are, what our inten­tions are, when it comes to our mil­i­tary bud­gets, how we oper­ate, where we oper­ate and so forth.”

Mean­while, Mor­rell said, the air­craft car­ri­er USS George Wash­ing­ton will return to exer­cis­es in the Yel­low Sea, not as an affront to Chi­na, but to warn North Korea to stop its aggres­sive behav­ior. A date has not been set for the car­ri­er to return to the area, he said.

“This is not an affront to the Chi­nese,” he said. “It’s not meant to send a mes­sage to the Chi­nese. It’s meant to send a mes­sage to the North Kore­ans about their behav­ior.”

Mil­i­tary offi­cials are also study­ing the pos­si­ble joint use of U.S. mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in Futen­ma, Japan, Mor­rell said, to “improve the effec­tive­ness of the alliance’s defense pos­ture.”

Also, in answer to a reporter’s ques­tion, Mor­rell said the U.S. mil­i­tary plans to fly V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor air­craft in Japan.

Mor­rell also announced that Gates will host a meet­ing with Russ­ian Defense Min­is­ter Ana­toly Serdyukov in the Pen­ta­gon next week.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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