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Militaries from China and the United States on Thursday agreed to deepen mutual trust and exchanges, manage risks and allow military relations to become a stabilizing factor for bilateral ties.
The consensus was made between General Wei Fenghe, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a meeting on the sidelines of the 5th ASEAN Defense Ministers" Meeting-Plus in Singapore, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday.
Experts said the positive rhetoric from the meeting can defuse tension in the recently rocky Sino-US military relations. However, "concrete and sincere" efforts from the US side are needed to continue the positive development of Sino-US military relations.
According to a release from China"s Defense Ministry, Wei said win-win cooperation is the only choice to sustain the long-term development of Sino-US relations.
The two militaries should jointly strengthen strategic dialogue, manage security risks, expand cooperation and facilitate the healthy development of military ties, he added.
Wei stressed that China stands firm on its principles related to the affairs of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and the Chinese military will resolutely protect national sovereignty, security as well as developmental interests.
He expressed the hope that the US can work with China to safeguard and contribute to regional and world peace.
Mattis said he acknowledges the differences between China and the US, but differences do not necessarily mean confrontation, nor does competition mean hostility, according to the release.
The US hopes to continue strengthening exchanges across various levels between the two militaries, utilize mutual trust and cooperation mechanisms, and allow Sino-US military relations to foster on the right track, Mattis said.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People"s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said it is in the interests of both China and the US to have a stable, healthy military relationship.
"However, the US" naval exercises in November, if they happen, will be very detrimental to Sino-US relations, as well as regional peace and security," Zhang said.
In early October, CNN quoted anonymous sources that the US Pacific Fleet is planning large-scale military drills in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits in November. The Pentagon has not officially announced the exercises.
The US, as well as the island of Taiwan, will hold major elections in November. The 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders" meeting will also be held in Papua New Guinea.
"The exercises will be very untimely and controversial, since many parties might take advantage of the US exercise to advance their political agenda," Zhang said.
"The ball is now in the US" court," he said. "It has to decide whether it is wise to conduct such exercises at this sensitive moment."