Future of China-US military ties depends on confidence building

2009-11-16 19:22 BJT

Special Report: US President Barack Obama Visits China |

Improving military exchanges will be high on the agenda during US President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing this week. However, whether this relationship can improve, depends on both sides staying committed to building confidence.

China-US military relations have historically lacked the strength and stability of both countries' economic ties.

The NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Kosovo in 1999 delivered a huge blow to military relations. The collision between a US plane and a Chinese interceptor off the southern island of Hainan in 2001 led to a freeze in military contacts. Last year, an arms sale worth 6 billion US dollars to Taiwan sparked a four-month suspension in military exchanges. In October, tensions were high after an American warship was intercepted in Chinese waters.

Professor Yuan Peng, Inst. of Contemporary Int'l Relations, said, "Military ties have been troubled by a bottleneck. This involves a strange cycle of friction, a freeze in communication, limited improvement and then frictions again. It has made military relations increasingly dangerous. There is potential for tensions to escalate. The two sides must reach some basic level of trust and understanding in security areas at sea, in outer space and cyber space, to prevent a deterioration in relations."