The top U.S. military officer, General Richard Myers, has wrapped up a two-day visit to China that was meant to improve relations between the two nations' militaries. General Myers reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to help Taiwan defend itself if China attacks.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers ended his visit to Beijing with a tour of the Great Wall, where he spoke to reporters.
"We had some very good talks. It will be followed up by other visits. We hope to keep this momentum going," he said.
The general's discussions with Chinese officials appeared cordial and touched on the issues of the U.S. War on Terror and the North Korean nuclear crisis - areas where China and the United States have recently cooperated well with each other.
But it was the thorny issue of Taiwan that topped the agenda when General Myers met with former President Jiang Zemin, who still heads the country's military establishment.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan says Mr. Jiang reaffirmed China's position on the island.
The spokesman says Mr. Jiang emphasized that Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in U.S. China relations. He says Mr. Jiang made it clear to General Myers that China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, will never tolerate independence for the island.
Beijing has recently stepped up its threats to use force against Taiwan if it declares independence, and has criticized the United States for providing military support - including weapons sales - to the island.
Washington abides by a one-China policy, but General Myers told reporters the United States remains committed to helping Taipei resist any attempts by the mainland to take the island by force.
The American general's visit was meant revitalize contacts between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, following a freeze that began in 2001, when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter jet.
Relations were strained as a result of the incident in which one Chinese pilot was killed. Chinese authorities detained the American crew after the plane made a forced landing in southern China.