China, US hold annual defense consultations
Updated: 2011-12-07 12:45
BEIJING - China and the United States on Wednesday held their annual round of defense consultations in a bid to control risks and avoid misjudgment between their militaries.
US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy (L), chats with China's Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, Ma Xiaotian (R), during a bilateral meeting at the Bayi Building in Beijing Dec 7, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
"The fact that the consultations took place as scheduled shows that both countries are being sincere about maintaining military exchanges," Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), said at the start of the consultations.
The consultations mark the first engagement between the defense ministries of both countries after the United States announced its $5.85-billion arms sale to Taiwan, including upgrades for 145 of Taiwan's fighter jets, in September.
"Hopefully both sides will make the best of this opportunity to expand common ground, keep risks under control and avoid misjudgment," Ma said, calling for positive results to come out of the one-day consultations.
"Like you, we place great value on this meeting," said Under Secretary of US Defense Ministry Michele Flournoy, who is leading the US delegation.
The US delegation consists of nearly 20 representatives from the Defense Department, the State Department,the Joint Staff, the Pacific Command, Navy and Air Force.
The topics of consultations include bilateral military relations and the US arms sale to Taiwan, as well as piracy and regional situations in the Korean Peninsula, South China Sea, Middle East and North Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The annual consultations began in 1997, following an agreement between former President Jiang Zemin and his US counterpart Bill Clinton.