United States welcomes confidence-building measures with Chinese military

BEIJING (Reuters) – The US and Chinese military have reduced the risk of meetings between them having “unintended consequences,” a senior US official said on Monday, while China reiterated it would not accept interference in the South China Sea.

There have been a series of incidents in recent years, most in the disputed South China Sea, where the United States has accused Chinese military ships and planes of coming dangerously close to American forces.

US National Security Visiting Advisor Susan Rice said the confidence-building measures reduced risks and the United States appreciated the progress made in improving military-to-military relations.

“Our military leaders communicate more frequently and directly than ever before,” Rice said in a meeting with vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission Fan Changlong.

“As our forces operate in close proximity to each other, the risk of unintended consequences has diminished thanks to the confidence-building measures our two sides have in place.”

The United States and China are increasingly at odds over China’s claims to most of the South China Sea, a waterway through which $ 5,000 billion in trade flows annually, where states United have sought to assert their right to freedom of navigation.

China has stepped up rhetoric to defend its claims since an international tribunal ruled this month that China lacks historic rights to the waters, raising fears that China will assert its position more forcefully. .

There have been two close contacts between the two armies since just last month, with the United States accusing China of tracking an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea and dangerously intercepting a spy plane at sea. East China, where China has competing territorial claims with Japan.

China said it was conducting routine operations in accordance with laws and rules.

Fan also stressed the need to deepen military relations with the United States to “avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.”

But he also rejected any notion that China would bow to pressure when it comes to protecting its national sovereignty in the South China Sea.

“The Chinese people will not give in to outside pressure,” he said, the defense ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Fan said the relationship between their armies faces “obstacles and challenges,” which, if not properly managed, “will disrupt and undermine” progress.

He said the deployment of an anti-missile system in South Korea would impact mutual trust. The United States is deploying the system in South Korea to protect it from North Korea.

Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Robert Birsel

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