The leaders of China’s and America’s militaries cast aside decades of hostility between the two countries, pledging at a joint news conference here to pursue what they separately called a “great opportunity” to create a “shared vision” of cooperation.
But neither indicated that his government was willing to alter positions on issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea that have long hamstrung better relations. And the Chinese leader, Gen. Chen Bingde, quickly voiced a string of complaints about American military policies that suggested their shared vision remained a distant dream.
General Chen and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were midway through three days of talks today, following up on a visit to Washington in May by General Chen, the chief of the People’s Liberation Army general staff. Both men are under orders to improve the military relationship, one outcome of a summit last January between President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China.
Monday’s news conference brought some evidence of progress toward that goal. The two sides agreed to hold counter-piracy maneuvers in the Gulf of Aden by year’s end, to hold talks on operational safety in Hawaii and China and to plan exercises in humanitarian relief for 2012. Such joint operations have been rare in recent years.