U.S.-China Military Officials Convene in Hawaii for Landmark In-Person Meeting

U.S. and Chinese military officials convened in Hawaii for their first in-person meeting in years as they tried to address operational safety in the Pacific and ease escalating tensions amidst concerns over China’s risky military maneuvers and unlawful maritime actions.

An Opportunity to Ease Tensions

This past week, U.S. and Chinese military officials met in Hawaii for their first in-person meeting after several years without a conference due to Chinese officials continuously avoiding discussions. The meeting comprised 18 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials and 18 U.S. military representatives.

The meetings are intended to allow the two nations to discuss operational safety in the Pacific Ocean. Resuming talks could be a significant step towards easing tensions and maintaining open lines of communication between the two military forces.

These meetings are also part of the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA), an agreement under which China and the U.S. have regularly met since 1998 to discuss air and maritime operational safety.

Even though the agreement has been in place for almost 25 years, the last time they met was virtually in 2021 due to covid.

Increasing Tensions

After 2021, Chinese officials continuously avoided meeting for the MMCA, and skeptics worried this could be a sign of tension increasing between the two nations. However, with this new meeting, many have become hopeful that relationships between these two massively capable countries will improve steadily.

When discussing the worsening military relationship between China and the United States, one military official was quick to point out the dangerous risks the Chinese military had been taking in the Pacific. The senior defense official said the U.S. continued “to see the PRC acting very dangerously and unlawfully against routine maritime operations the Philippines is conducting in the South China Sea.“

Ensuring Safety

Another Senior U.S. military official said the talks were crucial for ensuring the safety of military operations in the Pacific after the previous cancellations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

When discussing the meeting, the official said, “Both of us owe it to our service members to ensure that we operate safely,” and the meeting was “critical to ensuring the safe operation of our military force.”

China’s defense ministry described the meeting as candid and constructive but made a point to say they strongly objected to anything that might threaten the nation’s sovereignty and security

Presidents Meeting

Prior to the November 2023 summit, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping both met to keep military-to-military communications open and recognize its importance in preventing misunderstandings and potential conflicts.

Biden and Xi also recently made a phone call to follow up on their meeting in November, during which they discussed countering narcotics, artificial intelligence, and climate change. During their phone call, they also discussed the military relationship between the two countries, which was most likely the reason why Chinese officials agreed to meet.

Tension Over Taiwan

With tensions escalating over issues like Taiwan and China’s military activity in the South China Sea, these discussions have taken place against a backdrop of an increasingly corrosive relationship. However, with Biden making a serious effort to create an open line of communication, only time will tell if these efforts will be enough to avoid further violence in the Pacific.

The post U.S.-China Military Officials Convene in Hawaii for Landmark In-Person Meeting first appeared on Pulse365.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Omri Eliyahu.

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