US Army chief of staff announces regular high-level talks with PLA

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 February, 2014, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 February, 2014, 6:23am

China and the United States will establish regular high-level dialogue between their armies to promote better understanding and avoid possible conflict, US army chief of staff General Raymond Odierno said yesterday.

Such communication was crucial because any mishap between them could significantly affect stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Odierno said after meetings his Chinese counterparts in Beijing.

"This is really about expanding co-operation and, frankly, managing competition," Odierno said as he wrapped up his two-day visit.

He had been asked whether China's rise had affected US interests. "We want to expand our co-operation at a very high level, and then manage our differences constructively," Odierno said.

Although Odierno's trip focused only on land forces, he expected similar high-level contact would be set up between the navies and air forces.

Details would be finalised when US defence chief Chuck Hagel visited China in April, Odierno said.

Odierno met Central Military Commission vice-chairman Fan Changlong , People's Liberation Army chief of general staff Fang Fenghui and deputy chief of general staff Wang Ning. He also toured the headquarters of the Shenyang military region.

The American's visit came as both nations are boosting their presence in Asia-Pacific, raising tensions between the two.

Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence for the US Pacific Fleet, told a conference this month in San Diego that the PLA was preparing for a "sharp, short war" to "destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea" and seize the disputed Diaoyu Islands, called the Senkakus in Japan.

But Odierno played down the comments, saying there was no indication of such a move by the PLA. He called on China and Japan to resolve the dispute through dialogue. To that end, he urged them to improve communications to "ensure there is no miscalculation along the way".

Yue Gang , a retired PLA colonel, said China and the US wanted prompt communications in case of emergencies, like the near collision between the US cruiser Cowpens and a Chinese landing vessel in the South China Sea during exercises involving the aircraft carrier Liaoning on December 5.