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US, China Pledge Heightened Military Cooperation

  • VOA News

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gestures during a joint news conference with Chinese Minister of Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan at the Pentagon, Aug. 19, 2013.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gestures during a joint news conference with Chinese Minister of Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan at the Pentagon, Aug. 19, 2013.

The U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs met Monday in Washington, with both of them pledging to strengthen military cooperation between the two superpowers.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Washington is committed to a "positive and constructive relationship with China."

He said a sustained military-to-military relationship is "an important pillar" between the two countries.

Hagel's counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, said Beijing wants to work on a defense relationship with the U.S., to "elevate it to a new height." But he said it must not be "a relation dominated by either side."

Chang said the U.S.-Chinese military relationship should be based on mutual trust, "not a relation of mutual suspicion." Both Hagel and Chang said the military forces in the two countries would increase joint exercises, including naval training soon in the Gulf of Aden.

Hagel's meeting with Chang is part of a U.S. effort to focus more on its relations with Asia, even as conflict and uncertainty in the Mideast dominate world headlines.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in June in the western U.S. state of California, discussing a wide range of issues, but failing to reach an agreement on cybersecurity. The U.S. leader accused China of intellectual property theft, while Xi said his country also was the victim of cyberattacks.

Hagel said the two countries have established a working group to discuss cyberattacks. Chang said China faces "severe threats" from cyberattacks and wants "common exploration with the United States" on the problem, "rather than ungrounded accusations and suspicions."

The Chinese defense chief said no nation should use technology "to take advantage of other countries."

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