SHAFAQNA – China and the U.S. need to avoid incidents that complicate relations between their militaries, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday following a recent close call between air force planes from the two sides.
Rice made the comments on the second day of a two-day visit to pave the way for a trip to Beijing in November by President Barack Obama, which will include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Rice was to meet with Xi later Tuesday.
“Military-to-military ties between the United States and China have grown and strengthened. And it is an area of cooperation that the United States values,” Rice said during a meeting Tuesday morning with China’s Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Fang Changlong.
Rice added that “we face challenges and we certainly need to avoid any incidents that could complicate the relationship.”
Washington has alleged that a Chinese pilot acted recklessly Aug. 19 during close passes of a US plane about 135 miles (220 kilometers) south of Hainan island, which is home to Chinese naval airfields and a submarine base. China denied any reckless flying and said it would continue responding to U.S. surveillance flights off its coast.
It was not immediately clear if Rice discussed the plane incident with Fang. Despite tensions between their militaries, China and the U.S. have increased engagement in recent years. China’s navy took part this year for the first time in multinational naval drills hosted by the U.S. off the coast of Hawaii.
Rice met later with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and stressed the importance that Washington places on a “productive and mutually beneficial relationship with China.”
“We welcome the emergence of a strong and stable and peaceful and prosperous China that contributes and plays a responsible role in regional and global affairs,” Rice said ahead of the meeting with Wang.
Wang said China and the U.S. had a responsibility to work closely on important issues.
“We need to strengthen our strategic communication and maintain our coordination for the sake of international peace and stability,” Wang said.
Rice said after arriving in Beijing on Monday that her primary reason for coming was to arrange the agenda for the November meeting between Obama and Xi, which will coincide with an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. She said she looked forward to discussing concerns over North Korea, Afghanistan the Middle East and other issues.