Sino-US military ties have not advanced at the operational and tactical levels despite best of the American effort, a top Pentagon commander has said, highlighting the need to overcome this challenge in order to make Asia-Pacific a secure, stable and prosperous region.
"The military relationship at the strategic level has been sustaining itself. Advancing military relationship in other ways at the operational and tactical levels -- getting our two militaries more acquainted with one another through operations or through counterpart visits -- has not advanced," Pacific Command Commander, Admiral Robert Willard, said.
"Part of that is a difference in philosophy regarding what mil-to-mil should consist of between our two countries, and part of it is the trust factor, and part of it is what China views as impediments to advancing the military relationship," he told foreign journalists at a news conference in Washington.
All of those challenges need to be worked through, Willard said, adding "we use the strategic level dialogue to, hopefully, do that."
With China, the US is trying to improve its relations, government-to-government and military-to-military, to the extent it can, he said.
"We have a lot of work to do, to get it right. But the interest by Pacific Command and the interest from the United States is that this be a secure and stable and prosperous region of the world," Willard said.
The military relationship with China has been carried on throughout 2011, and now into 2012, at a strategic level, he said, adding a strategic security dialogue occurred inside the Strategic and Economic Summit last year.
"It was the defence consultative talks that occurred between the Department of Defence and Russia's Ministry of Defence in Beijing in the latter part of the year, I think in December. And as you know, that has coincided with a series of high-level visits both on the military side and the civilian side.
"We are looking forward to Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington next month. And security matters are intermingled throughout," he said.