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China: New Starting Point With US      01/28 06:26

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- Putting frictions aside for now, China says relations 
between the Chinese and U.S. militaries are at a "new historical starting 
point" and should focus on cooperation and avoiding confrontations.

   Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Wu Qian said Thursday that under former 
President Donald Trump, military-to-military relations "faced many risks and 
challenges" but the sides now have an opportunity to reset ties.

   Wu said the two sides held a teleconference on Tuesday and Wednesday on the 
tracing of U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action from previous 
Asian conflicts, and "exchanged in-depth views on cases of concern to the U.S. 
side and cooperation between the two militaries, reflecting the importance 
China attaches to U.S. concerns in the humanitarian field."

   "At present, China-U.S. military relations stand at a new historical 
starting point," Wu told reporters at a monthly briefing.

   Such positive-sounding language fuels perceptions that China's leaders are 
hoping for a fresh start in relations and a more civil discourse with 
Washington after years of rancor, even while deep divisions remain.

   China resents U.S. support for Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy 
it claims as its own territory to be conquered by force if necessary, along 
with the U.S. military presence in the South China Sea and what it sees as a 
broad-based U.S. campaign to restrain its growth.

   The U.S. says it does not recognize China's claim to virtually the entire 
South China Sea, accuses China of bullying its neighbors and maintains strong 
alliances or other relationships with Chinese regional rivals such as India, 
Australia, South Korea and Japan.

   The two sides have sought to reduce the chance of conflicts through 
agreements on unexpected encounters at sea and in the air, but risky incidents 
continue to occur. While the U.S. disinvited China from its multinational 
RIMPAC naval drills in 2018, the two sides have had a limited amount of 
cooperation in non-traditional military fields such as search and rescue and 
anti-terrorism.

   "It is hoped that the U.S. side, in the same spirit of professionalism, will 
meet China halfway, properly handle China's concerns in the field of 
military-to-military relations, strengthen communication, control risks, avoid 
crises and push forward bilateral military-to-military relations on the right 
track," Wu said.

 
 
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