US Army chief of staff meets top Chinese generals amid tensions, efforts to build trust

By on February 21, 2014

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno (Wikipedia photo)
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno (Wikipedia photo)

BEIJING – The U.S. Army chief met with top Chinese generals in Beijing Friday amid regional tensions and efforts to build trust between the two nation’s militaries.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno was greeted with full military honours Friday morning at China’s Defence Ministry and had a full day of meetings scheduled in addition to an event at prestigious Peking University.

His visit comes amid bitter disputes between China and two U.S. allies – Japan and the Philippines – over territorial claims in the East and South China seas.

China also sparked U.S. concerns late last year when it unexpectedly announced an air defence zone encompassing a large swath of the East China Sea, including islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Washington has refused to recognize the zone or follow China’s demands that its aircraft file flight plans with Beijing’s Defence Ministry and heed Chinese instructions or face unspecified retaliatory measures.

Despite those tensions, the militaries have pushed ahead with limited steps to reduce longstanding mistrust between them. They have held simulations aimed at co-operating in humanitarian relief operations, and China’s navy later this year is to take part in multinational naval exercises off Hawaii. .