The United States and China signed an agreement Friday to establish an army-to-army dialogue mechanism to better coordinate humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices. U.S. officials also hope the framework will promote mutual understanding and reduce the risk of miscalculation between the two countries.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Chinese Army General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, attended the signing ceremony.
During his meeting with General Fan at Pentagon on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said he hopes to reach consensus on another important framework on the rules of behavior for the safety of air and maritime encounters with China by the end of September.
Tensions between the U.S. and Chinese militaries have increased as U.S. officials called on Beijing to stop building artificial islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. China is also not happy with U.S. surveillance missions in the area.
General Vincent Brooks, U.S. Army Pacific Commander, told an audience in Washington recently that the interaction between the two armies could help reduce the risk of confrontations in the air and on the sea.
“We don’t see a collision between the [People’s Liberation Army] and the U.S. Army at the present time,” Brooks said. “We should be building our relationship while we can, to prevent miscalculation and misunderstanding.”
However, there is a growing concern among security experts in the U.S. that military exchanges between China and the U.S. has not produced desirable results for Washington; namely more transparency in the PLA and less aggression by Beijing in its territorial claims.
Some material for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.