China still open to defense chief dialogue with US

China and the United States “communicate and coordinate” with each other in bilateral exchanges on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Sunday morning, as experts say what extent the meeting will bring results positive that can benefit regional and world peace and stability depending on whether or not the US military will implement US President Joe Biden’s reaffirmed promise not to seek conflict with China.

“The Chinese side holds a positive and open attitude towards the exchange with the US side during the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus,” said Senior Col. Tan Kefei, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, when responding to the question that if the defense ministers of the two countries will hold talks on the side- sela ADMM-Plus in Cambodia. Tan said the relevant departments from both sides are “maintaining communication and coordination” in this regard.

Earlier on Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced that Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe will attend the 9th ADMM-Plus and visit Cambodia from Sunday to Thursday at the invitation of Phnom Penh.

Wei will deliver a speech at the conference and hold meetings with the heads of delegations of various participating countries on the sidelines, exchanging views on international and regional situations and defense security cooperation, the minister announced in a statement. Wei will also meet and hold talks with Cambodian state and military leaders during his visit to the country, the statement said.

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Zhuo Hua, an international affairs expert at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy of Beijing University of Foreign Studies, told Global Times on Sunday that if Wei’s meeting with the US Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd took place during ADMM-Plus, it means that both parties are carrying out a consensus to maintain an open strategic dialogue that the top leaders of the two countries reached on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia .

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Li Haidong, a professor from the Institute of International Relations at the Overseas Chinese University, said Global Times that the meeting between the presidents of the two countries is guiding China-US exchanges to achieve new breakthroughs in different areas.

“The meeting between the chiefs of defense is positive, because even if the two sides cannot reach an agreement on some specific issues, they can at least put efforts together to manage potential risks and dangers,” said Li.

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“The US Department of Defense is eager to make military diplomacy with China cover the operational level of war, and the Chinese military has always upheld the tradition of safeguarding regional and world peace through military diplomacy, so China holds a proactive and open attitude for communication and coordination with the defense departments of other countries different in the world, including the US,” Zhuo said.

Although the meeting between the defense leaders of China and the US met the anticipation of the two countries and the international community, “we must be careful about the results of the dialogue, because since Biden came to power, we have found that the US military has failed to fulfill the positive promises of their president in several operations to maintain US relations -China is far from a new conflict and cold war,” Zhuo said.

On topics such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan question, the two sides will definitely communicate, but these issues between the two major powers cannot be resolved in the short term. During the upcoming exchanges, the Chinese side can emphasize the importance and sensitivity of relevant topics to strengthen the appreciation of where the bottom line is in the minds of the US side, Li said.

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Duplicity is a long-standing problem of the US military, because even if it sometimes controls its hostile and provocative tone to prevent China’s anger too much, its military operations to contain China and threaten China’s sovereignty and national security have never stopped, Zhuo said. “This makes it very difficult for both parties to build mutual trust,” Zhuo noted.

The desire of the US for military diplomacy with China is based on the assumption of how to manage the conflict and crisis if the two sides have military friction in a few days, but China sees how to fundamentally maintain and improve peace and stability for the region and the world, so China wants to build a crisis management mechanism based on real political and strategic mutual trust, Zhuo said Global Times.

“Therefore, if the US military is sincere in its desire to work with the Chinese side to jointly manage military relations between the two countries, they should work with their Chinese counterparts to meet each other halfway,” said Zhuo.

This article was first published on Global Timeson November 20, 2022. The Global Times is a Chinese-English tabloid under People’s Dailythe flagship newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

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