A US Army participant learns Chinese at the US-China Disaster Management Exchange 2018 in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on November 16, 2019. (Photo: GT)
China-US military relations have served as an important stabilizer for the overall relations between the two countries since the start of the trade war despite the US' frequent provocations in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, and Chinese experts look forward to more exchanges and cooperation as the Chinese Defense Minister is expected to meet US Defense Secretary soon.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper will meet Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand this week, AFP reported on November 9.
Randall Schriver, US assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said the US would like to strengthen military cooperation with China, including repatriating the remains of US soldiers killed in the country during World War II, according to the report.
China and the US still have much more room for military cooperation, such as disaster relief, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times.
Both China and the US operate large naval ships that can provide logistics support to islands and coastal areas vulnerable to natural disasters, and the two militaries could use a coordination mechanism in disaster relief missions, Wei Dongxu said, noting that in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy missions, the two militaries could share information or even conduct joint operations.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command and the US Army Pacific are holding a joint humanitarian rescue and disaster relief exercise in Hawaii, which runs from November 14 to 24 and features more than 200 officers and soldiers from both sides, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry. A similar exercise was held in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province in November 2018.
China and the US are also participants of a land-based joint counter-terrorism drill held by ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) countries which kicked off on Wednesday in Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Maintaining good military ties has a very positive impact on the overall relations between the two countries, Wei Dongxu said.
Minister Wei and Esper made telephone contact on November 5 in which both sides stressed the importance of communication, cooperation, and stability, according to statements from the Chinese Defense Ministry and US Defense Department.
The Chinese minister also expressed China's principles and position on questions related to the island of Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, reads the Chinese Defense Ministry statement.
The US has frequently sent naval vessels and aircraft through the Taiwan Straits and into the South China Sea over the past year in the name of freedom of navigation.
China has been exercising restraint so no military confrontation has taken place between China and the US, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times.
While both sides wish for stable and cooperative military relations, these US moves are testing China's patience and risk breaking the stabilizer, the expert said, noting the US should stop before it is too late.