Good news from China this morning: not only does Mr. Xi’s health seem improved, so do U.S.-China relations.The future Chinese president’s comments that he hopes military-to-military relations will improve between the U.S. and China are a positive sign. Deepening cooperation between these two militaries is vital to improving trust and to reducing the chance that misunderstandings or crossed signals could lead to some kind of crisis. The WSJ reports:
“I believe that your visit will be very helpful in advancing the state-to-state and military-to-military relationship between our two countries,” Mr. Xi said.Mr. Panetta said he is confident that the U.S. and China will be able to improve their communication and dialogue. “We are two great Pacific nations,” Mr. Panetta said. “We want to begin what you have called a new model relationship.”
The U.S. has long been trying to deepen personal, professional, and strategic ties between the two military establishments. The Chinese military has often pushed back against these efforts. A favorable wind from the top might help to convince China’s generals and admirals of the benefits of a closer and friendlier relationship with their American counterparts.The Panetta-Xi meet wasn’t all smiles and handshakes, however. The U.S. Secretary of Defense fielded some tough questions when he spoke at the People’s Liberation Army engineering academy, as the Washington Post reports:
One cadet noted that Washington routinely sells arms to Taiwan, even though U.S. officials know that such sales irritate China. “Do you think that is contradictory to what you just said?” the cadet asked, referring to Panetta’s insistence that the United States wants a closer relationship with China.
President-elect Xi’s words on collaboration might just be diplomatic hot air, but in this time of turmoil in the Pacific and around the world, we will take our good news where we can find it.