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US, China Defense Chiefs Pledge Heightened Military Cooperation

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The U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs met in Washington Monday, 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," and that the military contacts between the two countries play a key role.



"A sustained, substantive military-to-military relationship is an important pillar to this strong bilateral relationship."



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 will 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 Mr. Xi said his country also has been the victim of cyberattacks.

Secretary 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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