China and U.S. defense policies have been changing. America’s arms sales to Taiwan in 2010 led to a disruption in bilateral military ties, followed by a break in security cooperation and dialogue. It wasn't until president Hu's visit to the US early this year that the relationship recovered. Since security issues were part of the China-US strategic and economic dialogue in Washington in May, the Chinese sent a military delegation for the first time, led by Deputy Chief of the People's Liberation Army, or PLA, General Ma Xiaotian. Yet the main points from the meeting weren’t military relations but security concerns, such as the issue of regional security.
Later in May, when PLA Chief of Staff Chen Bingde visited the US, the issue of military relationship was discussed in earnest. Unlike other senior military officials, Chen is responsible for commanding operations, which enabled a frank discussion on the differences between US and the Chinese militaries and the possibility of cooperation. It was seen as an eye-opener when the US opened the doors of several military bases and training camps to Chinese visitors. The Obama administration’s decision to open up some sensitive military installations, which might have left right-wingers ill at ease, can be interpreted as a sign of goodwill towards China as well as reciprocation of China's gesture to open up its own military bases, such as the PLA Second Artillery Command Post, to the US.
Zhang Yanlong is reporter of Economic Observer.
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