The top US commander in the Asia-Pacific region said on Wednesday he was seeing positive signs as he tries to develop relations between the US and Chinese militaries.
Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Samuel Locklear III said China and the People’s Liberation Army have been accepting of his visits since he took the helm at the US Pacific Command in March. The US has also been accepting of Chinese visits, and the dialogue between the two sides has been frank, he said.
“And all those things are positive signs, because the future’s not going to get any less complex,” Locklear told reporters at his headquarters near Honolulu. “It’s going to grow in complexity — and to work through a complex global security environment, you have to be talking to each other.”
Relations between the two militaries have fluctuated on and off in past decades, ever since the Chinese massacre of democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Most recently, military relations were frozen in 2010 after the US announced a US$6.4 billion weapons sale to Taiwan.
They began improving a year later after then-US secretary of defense Robert Gates visited Beijing.
Locklear, who most recently was commander of NATO-led operations that helped Libyan rebels overthrow late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, has made maturing bilateral military relations one of the US Pacific Command’s five basic priorities.
The admiral said on Wednesday it was not in the interests of the US, China or global peace and security for the two nations to have an adversarial relationship.
“There are places where we don’t agree on things. The best way you deal with that is you talk about it and you try to understand each other’s perspective and you move forward,” Locklear said.
Locklear said the issue reached an important milestone when Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and US President Barack Obama met last year and agreed to see if the two sides could find places where their interests converge, and understand better where their respective interests diverge.
The two sides differ on Taiwan, but the latest source of concern is the South China Sea and its island groups, which are claimed by six nations, including Taiwan and China.