Chinese MoD Announces Military Interaction with US ‘Aims to Cool Down Tensions’
(Source: Global Times; published Oct. 29, 2020)
The Chinese Defense Ministry said on Thursday that the militaries of China and the US were currently holding a virtual meeting for crisis communication, and more exchanges and consultations on issues including maritime military security will be held by the year end.

Experts believe the announcement aims to cool down military tensions with solid facts.

Previously, some Chinese observers said that the current China-US crisis management and regular consultation mechanism had been suspended, and that if frontline soldiers from the two sides meet at sea, failure of either party to comply with the existing rules could lead to disaster.

However, in light of the statement published by the defense ministry, experts believe the mechanism is still operating normally.

Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said on Thursday’s press conference that senior officers from the Office for International Military Cooperation of China’s Central Military Commission and US Department of Defense spoke by phone on October 20.

The two militaries were holding a virtual meeting for crisis communication on Wednesday and Thursday. The two sides agreed to conduct a 2020 military personnel humanitarian relief and disaster reduction seminar and exchanges by video conference in mid-November, Wu said.

In addition, before the end of the year, the two militaries will also hold a video conference on maritime military security consultations, according to Wu.

A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday that the information published by the Chinese defense authorities proved that current China-US military relations remain relatively normal. Meanwhile, it could help cool down the military tensions between China and the US, in other words, it is not the case where the outside world believes that China and the US are in a situation where war is on the verge of outbreak.

The expert said that the upcoming presidential election in the US has created an opportunity for China-US interaction. Whether Trump or Biden wins, China-US relations will embrace a new opportunity. This is not only the will of China but also of the US.

Although the two sides are currently in a deadlock, there is still some room for future exchanges and interactions.

In response to recent US media reports that said the US is studying a plan to use MQ-9 drones to attack islands and reefs in the South China Sea to create a so-called October Surprise to help President Donald Trump win the reelection, Wu said US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper specifically clarified this issue through military and diplomatic channels, stating that the relevant reports do not match the facts and that the US has no intention of creating a military crisis against China.

Esper said the US is willing to establish a stable, constructive, and results-oriented relationship between the two militaries and establish necessary mechanisms to reduce risks, strengthen communication, and cooperate in areas of common interests, Wu said.

The expert said that the clarification made by Esper is of great significance, and shows that the US attaches great importance to military ties with China.

The Chinese spokesperson’s announcement did not mention whether the Chinese and US military officials talked about the Taiwan question, but observers believe that it is a topic that cannot be avoided, and that both sides must have talked about it.

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