National Security Advisor Tom Donilon called for stronger military ties between the U.S. and China, including greater cooperation in areas such as peacekeeping and disaster relief, ahead of a summit next month between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
Donilon's remarks came on Tuesday, which was the final day of his visit to Beijing, where he met with Xi and other senior Chinese leaders.
Speaking to senior Chinese military official Fan Changlong, Donilon said “non-traditional security challenges” including peacekeeping, disaster relief and anti-piracy operations offered opportunities to build “greater mutual confidence and understanding,” AP reported.
“An essential part of building a new model for relations between great powers is ensuring we have a healthy, stable and reliable military to military relationship,” Donilon was quoted as saying.
Donilon’s trip to China was aimed at setting the stage for the June 7-8 summit to be held at a California estate called Sunnylands, southeast of Palm Springs, the first of its kind since Obama’s re-election and Xi’s ascent to the top, Reuters reported.
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Ahead of meeting with Donilon on Monday, Xi said he was “convinced that with joint efforts the upcoming summit will make positive progress and inject a new vitality into bilateral relations,” China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
In his meeting with Donilon, Xi said ties between the U.S. and China were at an “important stage connecting the past and the future.”
Donilon said President Obama was committed to “building a U.S.-China relationship with higher level practical cooperation, higher level trust, and managing whatever differences and disagreements arise between the two countries.”
Earlier, Donilon met with China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who said steady Sino-U.S. relations served mutual interests and was “conducive to peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the world,” Xinhua reported.
“China hopes to enhance dialogue, exchanges and cooperation with the U.S. side, as well as properly handle sensitive issues, in a bid to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral ties,” Yang said.
Despite efforts to build deeper tries, mutual distrust between the U.S. and China remains, further fueled by incompatible strategic interests and tensions between allies of the two economic giants in the Asian region.
Washington has been critical of China’s defense buildup, while Beijing has questioned the U.S. pivot to Asia that includes ramping up U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific.