Does China-US trade war affect their military relations?

China Military Online
Yao Jianing

Where will the China-US trade war go? Does it affect other fields, especially the weather vane -- relationship between the two armed forces?

Recently, an informed person close to the Chinese military told the Global Times that the current state of normal exchange between the Chinese and US armed forces has not been affected. The handling of the relations between the two militaries by the two sides is very cautious because changes in the bilateral military relations will have more serious impact than that of economic and trade relations.

Can the economic and trade issues between China and the US be controlled in a single area or will it affect other related fields? The direction of the bilateral military relations can shed some light on that question.

The relationship between the two armed forces has always been the weather vane of the relations between the two countries. The informed person, familiar with China-US military relations, said that the relationship between the two armed forces is like a weather vane in that the two militaries understand that once their relations are changed, the impact on the relations between the two countries will be comprehensive and fundamental, and even more serious than the consequences of the China-US economic and trade confrontations.

That person believes that the US’ view of China has undergone a major adjustment. In the past, it was competition and cooperation, and now it is more about competition. As a major power, China does not exclude the competition with the US, instead, it welcomes competition between all countries.

However, China is more concerned with the fact that the so-called competitive relationship between China and the US has slowly developed in an irrational and malicious direction.

“Under this trend, if we do not grasp it properly and communication is not smooth, it may lead China and the US to confrontation not only in a single field but also in other related fields,” he said. People are very worried about this as it would be a relatively big change.

The US military is currently in the commissioning phase from the perspective of China-US military relations. The commissioning phase means that the US national security strategy and defense strategy have set the framework, and now the US military is adjusting to the national strategic direction.

There is currently no overall confrontation in bilateral military relations. The two sides still actively interact on the basis of agreements they have reached in the past. The two armed forces have maintained normal relations and normal communications. This point of view can be proved in the news released by China's Ministry of National Defense: the Chinese and the US defense establishments are coordinating Secretary Mattis’ visit to China.

Other exchange programs between the Chinese and US armed forces are also progressing smoothly as planned. The Chinese side will send a working group to the US to participate in the final planning meeting of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC 2018) joint military drill in early April.

However, the person we are in conversation with believes that there are some negative trends in the relations between the two armed forces. The US frequently engages in tricks, such as signing the "Taiwan Travel Act," and resorting to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China has made normal and necessary reactions and adopted countermeasures against these small actions.

At present, the relations between the two armed forces are generally controllable.

That person said that the when it comes to the development of bilateral military relations, China hopes they will be maintained with a good momentum of development. In this regard, the judgments of China and the US are basically the same because it is clear that the bilateral military relationship is of vital importance and has a great impact on the situation in the region. The two countries can achieve a win-win situation. However, if they fail to do so, both sides will suffer.

Disclaimer: The author is Guo Yuandan, reporter with the Global Times. The article is translated from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author from the Global Times and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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