December 02, 2010

Military-to-Military Exchanges with China Resume

Admiral Mullen paid a visit to the Center for
American Progress last week to talk about U.S.-Chinese military-to-military
.  The Chinese suspended
such exchanges earlier this year over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan but indicated
their willingness to resume the talks at a meeting in Hanoi in October. 

What is likely to come out of the mil-to-mil exchanges? The
Admiral is hoping for progress on mutual security issues such as stability on
the Korean peninsula, shipping lane safety in the South China Sea, and assured
access and equitable use of the global commons. Both the U.S. and China "recognize
the emerging challenges of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, growing global
energy demands, and the geopolitical implications and stresses of climate
change." But, the Admiral said, “Now that both countries have agreed to
resume routine contacts as part of this important [aspect] of our relationship,
the hard work really begins.”

Hard work, indeed.  As
the Chinese argued in the October annual meeting under the Military Maritime
Safety Consultation Agreement (MMCA), “to establish mutual trust is the
fundamental approach” to solving disputes between the countries.  The U.S. has openly stated some of its
suspicions. In
a speech to the Asia Society in June
, ADM Mullen remarked that China’s
“heavy investments of late in modern, expeditionary maritime and air
capabilities seems oddly out of step with their stated goal of territorial
defense.” Mutual trust won’t come easy, but the Admiral has pledged that the
United States stands ready to its part.

The U.S. will have an opportunity to roll up its sleeves
soon as several dialogues are planned for the near future. Michele Flournoy
will host her Chinese counterpart at the defense talks this week, and ADM
Mullen has invited Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the Chinese army's general staff,
to visit the Pentagon. Secretary Gates is expected to travel to Beijing next