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Thayer China-U.S. Defence Ministers Meet

Thayer China-U.S. Defence Ministers Meet

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer
An analysis of the outcome of the meeting between China's Defence Minister, Chang Wanquan, and Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel.
An analysis of the outcome of the meeting between China's Defence Minister, Chang Wanquan, and Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel.

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Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Aug 21, 2013
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09/13/2013

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Background Brief China-U.S. Defence MinistersMeet: Not Quite a New Type of Great Power RelationshipCarlyle A. ThayerAugust 20, 2013
[client name deleted]
1) The US is shifting more to the Asia-Pacific, while China has shown itsdetermination to lead the region. What is your assewssment of the ongoing visit tothe US by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan? 
ANSWER: The current visit of China’s Defence Minister
Chang Wanquan toWashington was planned in advance of the June talks between Presidents BarackObama and Xi Jiping in Sunnylands, California. The history of China-U.S military-to-military relations goes through cycles of ups and down. When there is lack of progress the matter is dealt with by their respective heads of government. TheObama
 –
Xi meeting set a positive tone for the meeting of the two defence ministers.As in the past, some limited progress at lower levels follows.U.S.-China military-to-military relations must overcome three obstacles according tothe Chinese. The U.S. must stop arms sales to Taiwan. The U.S. must stop intelligencegathering
and maritime surveillance activities in China’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
And, the U.S. must remove the twelve areas of restrictions on military-to-militaryinteraction in the U.S. National Defence Authorization Act of 2000 (NDAA 2000).For the moment, China and the U.S. have only agreed to a number of small steps.Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit China next year. China will participate in theRim of the Pacific exercise next year, but its involvement will be limited by U.S. law(NDAA 2000) to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills only. The Chineseand U.S. navies will conduct their second anti-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden.Chinese midshipmen will visit the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. The leadersnoted that the working group on cyber (agreed during Secretary John Kerry
s visit toChina in April) will meet. And the U.S. and China will continue discussions on rules togovern the interaction between military aircraft and vessels on and above the highseas. This issue has been continually discussed by their bilateral MilitaryManagement Consultative Agreement set up in 1998 without reaching any practicalresult.Peace, cooperation and development will not be possible in the Asia-Pacific Regionwithout the development of strategic trust between the major powers. Strategictrust can only be developed step by step gradually.
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
 
2
2) According to the media, some compromises between the US and China about their interests/benefits in the Asia-Pacific region as well as about some outstandinginternational issues were reached during the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in June in California. The meeting between
the two countries’ defense ministers on August 19 is considered a follow 
-up to realizethe above-mentioned agreements/compromises. What is your assessment? 
ANSWER: Presidents Obama and Xi only had private informal discussions to map outareas of future cooperation. One positive outcome was their reaffirmation that theworking group on cyber would meet despite both sides holding widely differingviews. There was some agreement on climate change. Significantly both presidentsagreed to disagree over how to deal with North Korea, Taiwan and Japan over theSenkaku/Diaoyutai confrontation. And, of course, the presidential meeting resultedin forward movement on military-to-military cooperation.
3) Southeast Asia
’ 
s media predict that there will be an important turning point indisputes in the South China Sea after the meeting between the US and Chinesedefense ministers. Specifically, the US will make certain concessions to China in thedisputes and the Philippine
s’ lawsuit against China.
What is your assessment? 
ANSWER: The South China Sea was an area of contention between President Obamaand President Xi. Xi defended Ch
ina’s historical rights and sovereignty claims. Obama
restated U.S. neutrality on the question of territorial sovereignty. Obama supportsthe early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Xi views U.S.involvement as outside interference.Obama, and subsequently his Vice President Joe Biden and other seniorAdministration officials voiced U.S. opposition to the use of intimidation, coercionand force to settle disputes. It is highly unlikely that President Obama would agree tointervene in t
he Philippines’ claim to the Arbitral Tribunal. That matter is underway.
U.S. officials, however, have counseled the Philippines to tone down their anti-Chinarhetoric. The U.S. backs the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South ChinaSea.
4) What is your 
assessment of the term “new type of great power relationship” 
initiated and pioneered by the US and China? Will it mark the future trend of global  politics? 
 ANSWER: President Xi first suggested
the term “new type of great power
rela
tionship.” Xi proposed four major principles to
develop this new type of greatpower relations: (1) both sides should use existing inter-governmental mechanismsfor communication and dialogue; (2) both sides should utilize trade and exchangeson technology to open new channels of cooperation; (3) both sides shouldcoordinate their policies on major international issues; and (4) both sides shoulddevelop a new pattern of military relations. President Obama has not endorsed thisconcept.After the presidential meeting, China and the United States held their fifth Strategicand Economic Dialogue in July. Major progress was made on economic issues andclimate change. Both sides agreed to resume stalled negotiations on a bilateralinvestment agreement. On climate change, both sides agreed to prepare specific

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