The United States and China have agreed to enhance their direct military communication line in order to reduce chances of any “miscalculations” amid the Korean peninsula crisis and other standing issues between Washington and Beijing.
The joint strategic dialogue mechanism agreement was signed Tuesday between Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui of the Chinese army.
The agreement is designed to handle crisis mitigation and provides a “direct communication” channel between the Pentagon’s top leadership and the Chinese military. Such a channel will “enable us to communicate to reduce the risk of miscalculation,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The agreement also envisions face-face dialogue between the militaries, the first of which is scheduled for November.
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“These communications are especially crucial now, as the region and the world are facing the dangers of a nuclear-armed North Korea,” Pentagon officials said, according to the statement.
Tensions in the Korean peninsula is one of many points of contention between the two countries. Beijing has long been frustrated by Washington’s assertions that China is the one country that must do more to tackle the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Beijing has also been irritated over the US decision to use the issue as a pretext for deploying the advanced THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.
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In addition, China has repeatedly called out the US for exacerbating tensions on its borders through beefing up its military capabilities and intensifying their so-called freedom of navigation patrols in the South and East China Seas.
At the same time, Beijing continues to be suspicious of Washington’s policy toward Taiwan, which China considers an inherent part of China.
During the meeting, Fang said both military leaders discussed North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea. Fang further noted that cooperation between the two militaries was the only correct choice for the two countries, according to Reuters.
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The new agreement offers hope that any existing tensions between the two countries do not escalate into a military confrontation.
“The military-to-military contacts between the United States and China are important because there will always be some friction between the two countries,” Dunford noted during the meeting in Beijing.
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The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterated that military contacts between the two Pacific powers “will lessen the chances of a miscalculation.”
“The Chinese military is willing to make efforts with the US side to strengthen strategic communication, increase strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, appropriately handle problems and disputes and effectively manage and control risks,” the Chinese defense ministry said, as quoted by Reuters.