President Xi Jinping set the tone for developing military ties between China and the United States during talks with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, saying the two militaries should "properly manage conflicts" and avoid confrontation.
The talks between the two came a day after Hagel and Defence Minister Chang Wanquan exchanged fire on a range of issues that could threaten ties and after China's top envoy warned the US against creating an "Asian Nato".
"Both sides should stick to the principle of non-confrontational, non-conflict, mutual respect and mutual benefit to proactively push for pragmatic co-operation in various aspects," Xi was quoted as saying by CCTV.
"The scope of co-operation between China and the US is wider under the current complicated international conditions."
Xi and Hagel's meeting focused less on contentious issues, said two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
China criticised the US yesterday for passing a bill permitting the sale to Taiwan of four second-hand US warships.
Watch: China's Xi Jinping meets US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel
"This act is highly damaging, and doubtless will seriously … damage the development of Sino-US military ties and the peaceful development of cross-strait relations," said defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng .
Hagel said the US had to honour its security treaty obligations with Japan and the Philippines.
The two sides vowed to avoid the risk of miscalculation, and pledged to make progress on a notification mechanism for navy and air force activities at sea.
Zhang Baohui, a security specialist at Lingnan University, said negotiations for the protocol would take a long time. "The US will insist that it is legitimate for them to do surveillance in waters around China, but China will still regard such moves as a threat to national security," he said.
In New York on Tuesday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said Washington needed to think hard about the purpose of its military presence in Asia. "If your intention is to establish an Asian Nato, we are back in the cold war era. This is something that will serve nobody's interest," he said.