US naval chief to meet Chinese counterpart in Beijing
US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson will meet his counterpart, Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong, and other members of China's Central Military Commission during a four-day visit to Beijing and the eastern city of Nanjing
US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson will meet his counterpart, Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong, and other members of China's Central Military Commission during a four-day visit to Beijing and the eastern city of Nanjing.
The purpose of the trip - Mr Richardson's second to China as head of operations - is to 'continue a results-oriented, risk reduction focused dialogue between the two militaries,' a statement said.
It comes at a time as Beijing and Washington are engaged in an intense dispute over trade, copycat technology and the sovereign ownership of islands located in the South China Sea, SCMP reported.
Mr Richardson was quoted as saying in the statement: 'A routine exchange of views is essential, especially in times of friction, to reduce risk and avoid miscalculation. Honest and frank dialogue can improve the relationship in constructive ways, help explore areas where we share common interests and reduce risk while we work through our differences.'
Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said the admiral's visit could help to strengthen military ties and avoid miscalculations between the two navies, especially as Beijing deals with the challenge of an increased US naval presence in the region through its more frequent patrols.
'The US' close-in surveillance and freedom of navigation strategy pose a grave threat to China's offshore waters and its core interest areas, like the Spratlys and Paracels,' he said.
China wanted to make clear the significance of these areas so that conflicts could be avoided, he said.
'Even though the two sides are unlikely to reach consensus, it is necessary to exchange views on their respective positions,' Mr Song said, adding that Beijing might also seek to highlight its military transparency when Mr Richardson visits Nanning, which is home to the headquarters of China's Eastern Theatre Command.
Despite strong opposition from Beijing, the United States and its allies Britain, Australia and France have boosted their freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea over the past year in a show of their commitment to maritime free passage.