US, Chinese military officials hold talks on Spratlys row

BEIJING (MindaNews/12 July) – Top US and Chinese military officials held talks on Monday in a “candid manner” amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

State-run Xinhua News Agency released a statement saying that Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and his U.S. counterpart Adm. Mike Mullen discussed the rising tension in the South China Sea.

“We discussed four major topics, including the South China Sea, the attitude of some U.S. politicians toward China, cyber security and China’s military development,” Chen was quoted as saying after a closed-door meeting with Mullen.

“Both sides exchanged views on those issues in a candid manner,” he said.

Mullen arrived here on Sunday to start his four-day visit.

In his press conference on Sunday, Mullen raised the issue of the South China Sea, where other countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam have protested China’s renewed effort to assert its claim over the disputed territory.

Beijing maintained that the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands had always been part of their territory.

The Philippines and the US are presently conducting naval exercises near the disputed waters, while Vietnam had just ended a similar exercise in the South China Sea.

Observers said Mullen’s arrival here is a manifestation that the Americans are renewing the call for “freedom of navigation exercise in international waters.”

Mullen said there should be a constant dialogue between US and China’s armed forces to “minimize miscalculation and boost mutual trust.”

Chen said both sides have reached several “common grounds” in their meeting.

“It’s fair to say that we found a lot of common ground while we do have different opinions on certain issues,” he said, adding that the two sides agreed to implement the consensus reached by their heads of state to push forward the development of bilateral military relations. (Darwin Wally T. Wee/MindaNews)