US general cites 'difficult issues'

AP
The United States and China face many difficult issues but both share a commitment to work through them, the top US general said in Beijing yesterday.
AP

The United States and China face many difficult issues but both share a commitment to work through them, the top US general said in Beijing yesterday.

“I think we have to be honest. We have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army.

“We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, without elaborating.

US officials say Dunford’s visit aims to create a mechanism for better communication, especially on sensitive issues. Dunford and Fang signed an agreement committing the sides to that goal, with the details to be discussed during talks in Washington in November.

Fang said Dunford’s visit was a key part of efforts to expand dialogue between China and the US as agreed by President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump when they met earlier this year.

To that end, a series of meetings and visits had been arranged to help Dunford know more about China’s military, boost cooperation and build up friendship, Fang said.

Dunford said the US considered the meetings important to making progress on areas of disagreement.

They are the highest-level meeting between the two countries’ militaries since Xi and Trump met in Florida in April.

The US delegation will be flying to the northeastern city of Shenyang today to observe an exercise staged by the People’s Liberation Army’s Northern Theater Command. 

Fang cited the event as being among the measures aimed at building mutual trust and understanding.

While the sides agreed several years ago to establish a hotline between the Pentagon and China’s defense ministry, that mechanism has never gone into operation. 

The Chinese and US militaries have joined in naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii and other limited multinational drills mainly aimed at dealing with humanitarian disasters. They’ve also tried to improve mutual trust through agreements on dealing with unexpected encounters at sea.

Despite those, China deeply resents the presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea.

Last week, China expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with the US over its navy’s latest operation in which a warship sailed past one of China’s islands.


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