Chinese Minister of Defense Liang Guanglie (梁光烈) told a Pentagon press conference on Monday that there had been “a kind of turnover” in US-China military relations since Washington announced a new arms package to Taiwan in September last year.
Liang, who was speaking following meetings with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and earlier in the day with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, seemed to indicate that despite the sale, the relationship had improved.
While it is believed that arms sales to Taiwan were raised by the Chinese side at both meetings, no details were given during the joint Liang-Panetta press conference.
Neither mentioned Taiwan during formal opening statements.
However, in answer to one of the two questions that were allowed, Liang said: “Ever since last year — when the United States launched its new round of arms sales to Taiwan — we have postponed some of the engagement programs, including my visit to the United States and Secretary Panetta’s visit to China.”
“And here, I’m visiting the United States now, and I have invited Secretary Panetta to visit China later this year, which I would believe is a kind of turnover in the China-US military relationship even after the US arms sales to Taiwan,” he said.
Prior to Liang’s Washington meetings, US officials told the Taipei Times that they fully expected that the general would object to any future arms sales to Taiwan.
In particular, they expected him to ask for “clarification” on the recent White House promise to give “serious consideration” to selling F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan.
Sources close to the administration of US President Barack Obama said the US would simply reply that as in the past they were obliged to fulfill their obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act.
However, what happened in the actual closed-door meetings is not known.
Panetta said his meeting with Liang had been “very productive” and that he had expressed a commitment to “achieving and maintaining a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous” military-to--military relationship with China.
“On regional security challenges, we talked about North Korea and other areas,” he said.
The discussion had included maritime areas, cyberspace, nuclear proliferation and missile -defense, Panetta said.
“We recognize that the United States and China will not always agree on every issue, but we believe our military-to-military dialogue is critical to ensuring that we avoid dangerous misunderstandings and misperceptions that could lead to [a] crisis,” he said.
“A positive, cooperative, comprehensive United States-China relationship is absolutely essential to achieving a secure Asia--Pacific region,” Panetta said.
Liang said he had an in-depth and candid discussion with Burns on the international security situation.
He said that discussions with Panetta had been “deep” and that both sides had committed to building a sound, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship.
“The China-US bilateral relationship is on a new starting line in history to build a new type of China-US military relationship based on equality, cooperation and mutual benefit,” Liang said.
He said China wanted to work with the US to “respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and to properly handle disagreements and differences.”
Liang is the first Chinese defense minister to visit the US in nine years.
His six-day trip, which ends tomorrow, has included stops at the San Diego naval base, Southern Command in Florida, Fort Benning in Georgia and other military sites.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: A US Air Force KC-135 tanker came less than 1,000 feet of an EVA plane and was warned off by a Taipei air traffic controller, a report said A US aerial refueling aircraft came very close to an EVA Airways jet in the airspace over southern Taiwan, a military aviation news Web site said. A report published by Alert 5 on Tuesday said that automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) data captured by planfinder.net on Wednesday last week showed a US Air Force KC-135 tanker “coming less than 1,000 feet [305m] vertically with EVA Air flight BR225 as both aircraft crossed path south of Taiwan” that morning. The report included an audio recording of a female controller from the Taipei air traffic control center telling the unidentified aircraft that it was
A US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said yesterday, as tensions between China and Taiwan raise concerns in Washington. US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone near the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島). The US military said the carrier strike group was in the South China Sea, a large part of which
STRATEGIC MISTAKE: Beijing’s deployment of aircraft near Taiwan proves the ‘China threat theory’ that sees it attempting to destabilize the region, an analyst said China on Saturday and yesterday sent a record number of military aircraft into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), in what analysts said was an attempt to flex its military might for US President Joe Biden. Thirteen Chinese warplanes flew into Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ on Saturday and 15 entered yesterday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. On Saturday, eight Xian H-6K bombers, four Shenyang J-16 fighters and a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, entered the ADIZ, while yesterday there were two Y-8s, two Su-30s, four J-16s, six J-10 fighters and a Y-8 reconnaissance
DISPOSING MYTHS: A new constitution would better reflect reality, as the current one was drafted ‘in and for China,’ without the consent of Taiwanese, advocates said Independence advocates yesterday launched the Taiwan New Constitution Alliance to promote drafting a new, localized constitution. “This is a historic moment for Taiwan. Drafting a new constitution is the most important task Taiwanese face,” veteran independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) said at the inaugural event in Taipei. “Although the Democratic Progressive Party is in power, its authority is based on the Republic of China [ROC] Constitution, which has no connection to Taiwan,” said the 95-year-old Koo, a former presidential adviser. “The historic task of drafting a new constitution depends on efforts by all Taiwanese,” Koo said. “A constitution for a sovereign, independent Taiwan