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Dempsey, Fang Meet to Strengthen U.S.-China Military Relations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 – U.S. and Chinese military leaders had good discussions on subjects they agreed upon – such as North Korea – and subjects they didn’t – such as the South China Sea – during meetings at the Pentagon today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chinese Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of China’s General Staff, walk together during a full-honors arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, May 15, 2014. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted his counterpart, Chinese Gen. Fang Fenghui, the chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

The meetings are designed to deepen the developing military-to-military relationship between the two nations.

Signs of progress abound. China is sending a ship to participate in this year’s Rim of the Pacific naval exercise. The exercise “fosters and sustains cooperative relationships, which of course, help avoid miscalculations and prevent conflict,” Dempsey said during a joint news conference with Fang. “The global maritime environment is simply too large, and too complex for any one nation,” the chairman added.

The two military leaders also discussed tensions in the South China Sea, and how provocative actions can lead to confrontation. “These issues need to be resolved through dialogue and international law,” Dempsey said. “We had a refreshingly frank and open discussion on our mutual concerns and differing opinions about the East China Sea, as well as the destabilizing effects, in our view, of North Korean actions.”

Dempsey said it is important for China to model great power by contributing to stability in the region. “And we committed to work with each other toward that end,” he added.

Fang vowed to continue building the relationship along a sound and stable track.

“It’s very important that we should all abide by the principle of nonconflict and nonconfrontation,” he said through a translator. “At present, the China-U.S. bilateral relations and military relationship have reached an important historical stage. In this context, it’s very important to further our bilateral ties and military relations.”

The men spoke about cooperation on counterterrorism and counterpiracy operations. They also discussed establishing a mechanism for mutual notification of major military activities and devising standards of behavior for air and sea military safety in a maritime domain, Fang said.

The two militaries also will conduct more humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.

At the headquarters level, the U.S. and Chinese militaries will establish a dialogue between their strategic planning departments and continue advancing the army-to-army dialogue mechanism. Both Dempsey and Fang mentioned an upgrade to the defense telephone they use to allow secure video teleconferencing with each other. In addition, they agreed to explore the possibility of conducting joint exercises and training in a third country, Fang said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)

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Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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