hagelandchangPENTAGON: The kabuki of high-level international press conferences often successfully softens the sharp divisions that may lurk beneath the surface of the relationship between two countries. When those countries are a burgeoning China and a wary United States it’s almost impossible to hide all the differences and so it was at today’s press conference featuring Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan.

Compared with past visits, this one did make very clear how much the bilateral military relationship is blossoming and appears to be stabilizing after years of uncertainty. Three days before leaving for a major Pacific trip including meetings with ASEAN defense ministers, Hagel ticked off: China’s participation next year in our largest naval exercise in the Pacific, Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RimPac; general expansion of bilateral exchanges such as the recent participation of Chinese midshipmen at the Naval Academy; the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement Working Group is meeting today in Hawaii with a focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; this weekend the two navies will conduct the second counter-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden; and the two sides are working together “to actively explore a notification mechanism for major military activities and continue to study the rules of behavior on military air and maritime activities,” Chang said through an interpreter.

Perhaps the most intriguing commitment will be regular exchanges between the J-5, the Joint Staff’s strategic plans and policy directorate, and the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic planning department. One assumes the U.S. military won’t share its highly classified strategic planning regarding China, so it’s likely the exchanges will focus on what used to be called operations other than war and are now often called humanitarian assistance, disaster response (HADR).

Then came the sticky bits. When a reporter asked Gen. Chang (pronounced chong) about China’s cyber espionage and attacks on the United States the general said — to no laughter from anyone in the press corps — that “the Chinese military has never supported any kind of hacker activities.” In fact, he repeated the Chinese claims (probably true) that “China is one of the primary victims of hacker attacks in the world.” (Note to NSA: you appear to be doing your job well.) The two countries recently established a cyber working group to explore these issues.

Of course, the two teams hammered away at regional security issues, including North Korea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. No details on those, presumably because they are too sensitive to subject to public discussion.

The one other sticky bit, and perhaps the most enjoyable moment of the press conference, came when Gen. Chang answered a questions about America’s Pacific pivot. China would, he said through the translator, ”like to have this rebalance strategy rebalance on other countries as well.” We bet you would!

 

Comments

  • Jack Everett

    “Of course, the two teams hammered away at regional security issues, including North Korea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. No details on those, presumably because they are too sensitive to subject to public discussion.”

    Of course it’s to sensitive because Obama does not want the public to know who he plans to lie to next and blame it on the other guy. These talks are a waste of time and money and resemble a worthless republican debate. America handed China our wealth on a silver platter and they are not going to give it back.

    • Thomas Armstrong

      here! Here! finally some truth!!

    • Mike

      A, I believe that honor goes to Richard (“I’m not a crook”) Nixon for opening up China at the behest of the Conservative Ultra Wealthy (CUWs) who thought they could transfer millions of Middle Class jobs to the helpless peasants of China and in the process make billions regardless of the damage done to America…. That did not work out so well, did it? No, the GOP and their handlers the CUWs are stuck with that black eye…. Kind of reminds me of all the war materials the grandfathers of the current CUWs secretly sole to the Nazis before WW-11. They may be rich, but history has shown that they will sell anyone out for a buck, even their own country!… :(

    • bridgebuilder78

      Well, they did give some back, about $2 trillion worth. In exchange, they get to keep the factories, the technology, and the knowhow.

      Win-win?

  • M&S

    China holds something like 2/3rds of our unpayable 16 trillion debt.
    Like a hunter facing a gutshot buck, they know that we’re gonna stagger around a little and suffer a bit after that but so long as they wait a half hour before walking up the blood trail, the endgame is certain.
    China has no reason to want war with the U.S. because they don’t need one to complete their rise to the position of new world leading economic and geopolitical force.
    Having said that, you have a four year politician-as-bureaucrat running one side’s ‘defense’ and a general-until-relieved leading the other’s warfighting establishment.
    Where wars are won on a ten year planning timeline based on where key enabling technologies cross an available tactical advantage point in a given theater on a steady state funding schedule. The soldier who knows what he’s doing beats the man who inherits other people’s ideas on the basis of development, deployment, training and strategic prepositioning of forces intended to be used from the outset.
    I know which side I would pick for the win in 2020. In 2030, the odds are not so good.

    • Real Facts

      China owns 1.25 trillion of our 16 trillion dollar debt and Japan owns about 1.1 trillion. You, the taxpayer (presumably), own the majority of that debt… about 2/3rds.

  • ELPs

    Its amazing how much crap you can type on the comments section of a website. Some of us do not have the luxury of sitting on a computer all day, eating nachos, and copy pasting from the internet. Some of us actually have to go out there and get a job, rather then do what M&S does, i.e. try to portray himself as an messiah – expert about everything, but who still lives with his Mom.