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Chinese and US military leaders met in DC – here’s why

Chinese and American flags. (futureatlas.com/Flickr)
September 01, 2019

Military leaders from the United States and China recently met in Washington to discuss a host of issues regarding China’s Defense White Paper.

Chad Sbragia, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, led the U.S. delegation for talks on Aug. 14 with China’s Major General Huang Xueping, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation, according to the U.S. Department of Defense press release.

“The meeting provided an opportunity to gain a better understanding of China’s national defense policy consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding on Notification of Major Military Activities Confidence Building Measure Mechanism,” the statement read.

The statement continues added, “The U.S. delegation included representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the State Department, and the National Security Council staff, while the Chinese delegation included representatives of the Central Military Commission’s Office for International Military Cooperation.”

The Memorandum of Understanding on Notification of Major Military Activities Confidence Building Measure Mechanism is an agreement between the United States and China which aims to “Affirm that both sides are committed to improve relations, deepen mutual understanding, reduce risk , and reduce the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation.”

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China’s new Defense White Paper, titled, “China’s National Defense in the New Era,” was released July 22. It is considered to be China’s most far-reaching reform since the 1950s, when the nation ended a civil war that paved the way for the communist take over referred to as “The Great Leap Forward,” which was part of creating modern-day China.

The white paper highlights a new emphasis on “combat readiness and military training in real combat conditions,” Japan Times reported.

Beijing “has organized naval parades in the South China Sea,” the white paper said, and “conducted a series of live force-on-force exercises” while its air force “has conducted combat patrols in the South China Sea and security patrols in the East China Sea, and operated in the West Pacific.”

The white paper effectively “made China the key objective in strengthening U.S. military forces and single it out as America’s primary strategic competitor,” according to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ (CSIS), a centrist think tank based in Washington, D.C.

“China’s National Defense in the New Era is a clear and detailed 51-page response to the massive shift in U.S. strategy from a focus on counterterrorism and extremism to competition and possible conflict with China and Russia,” Cordesman writes. “It flags the fact that America and China are now competing superpowers, and that China’s growing military forces are developing to the point where they will be able to challenge the United States.”

Tensions between the United States and China have been escalating for a number of reasons, including China’s continued efforts to control the South China Sea, allegations of spying, intellectual property theft and an ongoing trade war.

Beijing claims much of the South China Sea where the Chinese, U.S., Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies routinely operate. The unprecedented claim over the strategic part could possibly lead to a military conflict.