- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

White House National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon called Tuesday for strengthening U.S. military ties with China, despite growing tensions between the two over Beijing’s state-sponsored hacking and maritime territorial claims.

Donilon pushed for increased military cooperation in peacekeeping, fighting piracy and disaster relief.

“An essential part of building a new model for relations between great powers is ensuring we have a healthy, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship,” Mr. Donilon said in brief comments to reporters, Reuters reported.

He added the two countries should work to face “non-traditional security challenges” like peacekeeping and stability operations, emergency disaster relief and naval counter-piracy operations ensuring freedom of navigation.

Mr. Donilon is visiting Beijing this week ahead of a summit next week in California between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He spoke at a meeting with Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, after being received by Mr. Xi on Monday.

China-U.S. relations are at “an important stage connecting the past and the future,” Mr. Xi told him, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Tuesday, Gen. Fan called for a “new type of major power relations” between Washington and Beijing.

During their meetings throughout Mr. Donilon’s three-day visit, U.S. and Chinese officials have stressed their hope that the informal summit June 7-8, on the sprawling Annenberg “Sunnylands” estate outside of Palm Springs, Calif., will help the two sides strengthen their cooperation. 

The summit will be an opportunity for U.S. leaders to learn more about the foreign policy intentions of Mr. Xi, who scholars have described as more confident in foreign affairs as well as more nationalistic about China’s role in the world than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Establishing personal trust between the leaders can play a crucial role for strengthening strategic mutual trust … in particular dealing with the bilateral thorny problems,” reads an editorial Tuesday in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.

Neither side has given any details about the agenda for the summit, but analysts say the two leaders must avoid several looming potential crises: over the continuing nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula; over China’s extensive maritime territorial claims against U.S. allies in the South and East China Seas; and over a string of cyberintrusions against high tech or defense companies U.S. officials have linked to China.

Mr. Donilon’s three day visit ended Tuesday.


• Shaun Waterman can be reached at swaterman@washingtontimes.com.

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