US DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL'S four-day visit to China starting from Monday is a sign of the enhanced dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and US militaries, which are very important because they could help reduce misunderstandings and miscalculations.
However, his remarks prior to his visit show there is much work still to be done in this regard.
Referring to the territorial disputes China has with its neighbors, he said he would press China to use its power wisely and respect its neighbors. By pointing the finger at China as the instigator of increased tensions in the region, he is ignoring the fact that it is the United States' meddling in the territorial issues which has resulted in the worsening situation in the South China Sea.
Although it professes not to take sides, the US has again sent a message to those Asian countries which have territorial disputes with China that the US will throw its weight behind them in their actions against China.
Instead of helping to ease the tensions and promote peaceful settlements of the disputes in the South China Sea, the US has simply been emboldening countries in their bids to provoke China and is making things increasingly complicated and difficult to be settled through talks and negotiations.
Hagel should heed his own words that no country should violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by coercion or intimidation. And no one should underestimate China's resolve to defend the integrity of its territory.
But, neither should anyone doubt China's sincerity and resolve to try to settle its territorial disputes with its neighbors through talks and negotiations. The Chinese government has reiterated time again that such disputes can and should be settled through bilateral talks and negotiations.
In the recent meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama, the two sides agreed to establish as soon as possible an information notification system on the two militaries' major military actions, and formulate rules on safe maritime and airspace military actions in international waters. But this cannot be done without trust and understanding.
As Hagel said, the more transparent and open governments can be with each other, the better for everyone. China has shown its openness by inviting the US defense secretary to tour China's aircraft carrier the Liaoning.
Hagel's face-to-face talk with his Chinese counterpart should help him know more about China's stand.