Chinese and US defense officials met yesterday for their highest-level talks since Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan in September, Xinhua news agency said, a sign the countries are trying to keep relations on an even keel despite tensions.
The annual round of consultations was led by People’s Liberation Army Deputy Chief of the General Staff Ma Xiaotian (馬曉天) and US Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, Xinhua said.
“The fact that the consultations took place as scheduled shows that both countries are being sincere about maintaining military exchanges,” Xinhua quoted Ma as saying. “Hopefully, both sides will make the best of this opportunity to expand common ground, keep risks under control and avoid misjudgment.”
The arms deal for Taiwan is one of several irritants. In September, Beijing stepped up condemnation of Washington for the deal, saying it could disrupt military exchanges.
However, the talks come a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) urged navy personnel to “make extended preparations for warfare in order to make greater contributions to safeguarding national security and world peace.”
Hu made the unusually blunt comments during a meeting with deputies of the party congress of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Beijing, according to a Xinhua report.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said his country’s defense policy should not be a cause for alarm.
“China from beginning to end pursues a defensive national defense policy and sticks to the path of peaceful development,” Hong said at a news briefing. “China’s development has given the countries of the world an important opportunity. It has not in the past, and it will not in the future, present a danger to any country.”