Obama and Xi to seek expanded military ties

(From the Washington Times)

By Bill Gertz

Despite tensions over Chinese military cyberattacks and destabilizing island-building in the South China Sea, the Obama administration is hoping to use the visit next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping to expand military exchanges.

Pentagon officials were hoping to conclude an agreement in time for the summit that would outline so-called “rules of the road” for U.S.-China military aircraft encounters.

US P-3 Orion

US P-3 Orion

As of this week, however, talks between Pentagon and Chinese military officials on minimizing dangers during aerial encounters remained bogged down by Beijing’s demands that the U.S. military halt all surveillance flights near Chinese coasts. The Pentagon so far has refused to agree to the limits, according to U.S. officials familiar with the summit planning.

A Chinese jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. P-8 surveillance jet in August 2014 over the South China Sea. The incident triggered the effort to reduce the dangers of aerial intercepts. A U.S.-China agreement on sea encounters has been reached, but an aerial accord remains elusive.

The Obama administration wants expanded military exchanges with China to be a key “deliverable” for the Xi visit, despite the concerns over China’s cyberhacking and island-building. The summit, like regular talks known as the strategic and economic dialogue, is expected to be strong on atmospherics but short on substance. Read more

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