Admiral Mullen’s brief op-ed in the NYT on “A Step Toward Trust With China“:
THE military relationship between the United States and China is one of the world’s most important. And yet, clouded by some misunderstanding and suspicion, it remains among the most challenging. There are issues on which we disagree and are tempted to confront each other. But there are crucial areas where our interests coincide, on which we must work together.
So we need to make the relationship better, by seeking strategic trust.
That’s why I invited my counterpart in the People’s Liberation Army, Gen. Chen Bingde, to the United States in May, and it’s why he was my host in China two weeks ago. We broke new ground by, among other things, showing him Predator drone capabilities in detail and a live-fire exercise; the Chinese reciprocated with a tour of their latest submarine, a close look at an SU-27 jet fighter and a complex counterterrorism exercise.
Our discussions were candid and forthright. General Chen made no bones about his concerns about American arms sales to Taiwan, and I made it clear that the United States military will not shrink from our responsibilities to allies and partners. He said the P.L.A.’s strategic intentions were purely defensive; I said that neither the skills they were perfecting nor their investments seemed to support that argument.
Yea, verily - trust but verify:
The US military vowed on Monday to press ahead with surveillance flights near China despite opposition from Beijing, after reports Chinese jets crossed a boundary with Taiwan to pursue a US spy plane.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked about a June 29 incident in which two Chinese Sukhoi-27 fighters briefly crossed a line in the center of the Taiwan Strait that is considered an unofficial air boundary between both countries.
Asian media reported the Chinese jets were attempting to intercept a US U-2 reconnaissance plane.
“We won’t be deterred from flying in international airspace,” Mullen told reporters in Washington in response.
“The Chinese would see us move out of there. … We’re not going to do that, from my perspective. These reconnaissance flights are important.”
The bug hunt going on in Afghanistan is important. Keeping a lid on the South China Sea – Beijing is offering “one on one negotiations” with Manilla over the Spratlys – is crucial.