Good news on the foreign policy front has been hard to come by lately. So it’s refreshing to hear that the relationship between the U.S. and Chinese militaries is “headed in the right direction,” according to officials on both sides of the Pacific. The AP reports:
China and the United States moved Friday to establish regular dialogue between their armies as part of efforts to build trust and understanding amid rising regional tensions.“I have a very positive opinion on our future relationship as we develop the army dialogue,” Odierno told the People’s Liberation Army’s Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fang Fenghui at a meeting at the Defense Ministry in western Beijing.Fang said China agreed with Odierno’s suggestion that relations between the two armies should advance on the principles of engagement, sharing and balance.“I think that is quite a constructive idea,” Fang said.
Warm relations between these two military powers is especially welcome given the changes occurring in the balance of power in the Pacific. Since the defeat of Japan in 1945, Asia’s waters have been dominated by the U.S. military. Now China is beginning to alter the balance of power. As Geoff Dyer writes in an in-depth article in the Financial Times magazine:
China wants a return to the leadership position it has enjoyed so often in Asian history. It also frets about the security of its seaborne commerce, especially in the area it calls the “Near Seas” – the coastal waters that include the Yellow, East China and South China Seas. The Yalong Bay naval base on Hainan is one part of the strategy that China is starting to put in place to exert control over the Near Seas, pushing the US Navy ever farther out into the western Pacific. In the process, it is launching a profound challenge to the US-led order that has been the backbone of the Asian economic miracle.
For China, having America’s overwhelming military power extend so close to its shores and major cities is a humiliating reminder of its past, when foreign navies allowed the European powers to extend control far beyond China’s shores. These historical memories are driving China’s push to build a strong navy.As it pursues this goal, good lines of communication with the U.S. Navy are vital for preventing accidents..