Authorities are 'coordinating' on restart of high-level communication: Spokesman
In this undated photo, Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, speaks during a press conference at the ministry in Beijing, China. (PHOTO / MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, CHINA)
China and United States defense authorities are "communicating and coordinating" on resuming high-level military communications, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, made the remarks at a news conference in response to the latest updates on China-US military ties after the two countries' leaders met in San Francisco last month.
"According to the consensus reached by the two heads of state, China and the US have agreed to resume high-level military communication on the basis of equality and respect," he said. That includes the China-US Defense Policy Coordination Talks and the China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings, as well as telephone conversations between theater commanders.
"The defense departments of the two countries are maintaining communication and coordination on this issue, and we will release relevant information in due course," said Wu.
The spokesman highlighted the basis of equality and respect, stressing that should be the "integral component" of the way in which China and the US properly get along, and it is also the basic premise for developing bilateral military ties.
Wu said that China attaches great importance to the relations between the two militaries.
He added that the Chinese military is willing to work with the US side to earnestly implement the consensus of the two heads of state, carry out exchanges and cooperation in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and promote the healthy and stable development of the relations between the two militaries.
The defense official also expressed firm opposition to the US inciting the Philippines to infringe upon China's rights and make trouble in Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea, in response to the joint statement released by the US and Philippine defense secretaries after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, in mid-November.
Their statement claimed that the two countries denounced the maritime rights protection and law enforcement activities by China toward Philippine Coast Guard and resupply vessels conducting resupply operations around China's Ren'ai Reef.
Japan's Nikkei Asia news outlet last week quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that the US has begun advising the Philippines on the repair of the warship that has been illegally grounded in shallow waters near Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea for the past 24 years.
Wu said that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, including Ren'ai Reef and its adjacent waters.
"The Philippine side has illegally grounded a warship in Ren'ai Reef and continuously sent ships to intrude into the waters there, attempting to repair and reinforce the grounded warship, which seriously infringes China's sovereignty, international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," he said.
Wu emphasized that the Ren'ai Reef issue is a bilateral matter between China and the Philippines and has nothing to do with the US.
"China firmly opposes the US, which has been interfering and stirring up trouble in the South China Sea for its own selfish interests, inciting the Philippines to infringe China's rights and make trouble in Ren'ai Reef, and intensifying regional tensions," said the spokesman, adding that history has proven time and again that US intervention only makes situations worse.
"We strongly condemn the wrong actions of relevant countries in provoking confrontation and undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea, and urge them to exercise caution in their words and actions," said Wu.
He warned that the Chinese military will take resolute and powerful measures to defend national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.
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