The top U.S. military officer is trying to reassure China the United States wants to be a "stabilizing influence" in an Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey commented Monday at a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui in Beijing. General Dempsey says the U.S. military is committed to building a better, deeper and more enduring relationship with China as the Obama administration shifts its strategic focus toward the Asia-Pacific region from the Middle East.
Demspey says the United States probably did not take enough interest in the Asia-Pacific region during the past decade, as U.S. troops fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says Washington now is "more engaged" in the region to prevent what he said would be a destabilizing "absence" of U.S. activity.
People's Liberation Army chief of staff Fang says the Chinese and U.S. militaries need to deepen cooperation and have a new type of partnership. Chinese state media have expressed concern the U.S. "pivot" toward engagement in Asia-Pacific affairs could embolden U.S. allies such as Japan to take a tougher position in territorial disputes with Beijing.
General Dempsey arrived in China on Sunday to begin a five-day visit, his first since taking office in 2011. He is due to meet with other senior Chinese military and political leaders and visit Chinese military sites this week.
An editorial by Chinese state news agency Xinhua praised the visit, saying frequent meetings between senior U.S. and Chinese officials in recent weeks have improved bilateral relations to an "excellent" level.