China Leadership Monitor

Make Talk Not War: Strategic U.S.-China Military-to-Military Exchanges in the First Half of 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Following key leadership transitions in the Pentagon and Pacific Command (PACOM), strategic military-to-military meetings have continued apace in 2007 with visits to China by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Pace and PACOM Commander Admiral Keating; reciprocal visits by PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli to the United States; and an exchange between Deputy Chief of the General Staff Zhang Qinsheng and DoD leaders at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, where China announced that it would finally agree to a military hotline. While the regular conduct of these exchanges is a net positive for strategic U.S.-China relations, the externals highlight persistent tension and misperceptions about intent and capabilities. Further, the lack of demonstrable progress in some spheres, such as the establishment of any “incidents at sea” protocol under the Military Maritime Cooperative Agreement framework or the scheduling of Second Artillery Commander Jing Zhiyuan’s reciprocal visit to the United States, requires analysis and explanation.