U.S. and China to Deepen Military Ties

U.S. and China to Deepen Military Ties

Call it the changing of the guard, call it the new world order, or call it just the way things go- the U.S. and China are now holding high level talks about working more closely together militarily in the future. China has far more people than the U.S., holds a large chunk of U.S. debt, and recently overtook the U.S. as the number one polluter on the planet, as far as countries go. None of those in and of themselves mean anything dramatic, but taken together the represent symbols of a shifting power structure around the world. China also has a major voice in the Copenhagen summit and whatever environmental/ climate change agreement can hope to be made in the years that come.

When I was a kid the main way I knew about China was from toys- Made in China. Lots of those toys were little plastic army guys, which now seems ironic. Reuters reports that after years of what U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls “on again off again” talks, the U.S. is calling for a more consistent dialogue with China.

"We need to break the on-again, off-again cycle of our military-to-military relationship," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. Formerly there were instances, he continues, "where we make strides, we have a good visit, we agree to cooperate on certain things and then there will be a hiccup that will cause there to be a suspension" in military-to-military relations.

China is expanding its military, and the U.S. is taking notice. As we should. The shifting power dynamic of international politics will change the way the world views its safety and where vulnerable nations look for help in conflict, support for their own military infrastructure and, ultimately, who the rest of the world listens to when touchy situations arise.

That same kid who grew up playing with plastic army guys can’t imagine a world where the U.S. is not the preeminent military power, but then, few of us born since WWII really can. What will it be like for the “ongoing dialogue” to become a conversation where we have to do more listening that talking? What will it be like for the U.S. to have to consult with China before making any kind of military move?

Perhaps I am being a little overzealous in those questions. Nothing is changing in the immediate future, but then, things on the horizon certainly look like they will take on a new set of lines in the sand.
Chinese shops are running into U.S. surveillance off the coast, and they are calling for the U.S. to decrease and eventually stop air surveillance near the coast. Other issues to work out are the countries’ differences over Taiwan (The U.S. recognizes it as a country, China views it as a rebellious entity that should be part of China).

"We ought to be able to talk about those policy disagreements in an appropriate setting. But the important thing is that we shouldn't let those policy disagreements lead us to take actions that might precipitate a crisis or undermine the entire bilateral relationship,” said Xu Caihou, China’s vice chairman of the People's Liberation Army Central Military Commission.

We’ll see.

Photo Credit under CCL: Luther Bailey