by Liu Chang
BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Six months after then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited China to revive bilateral military ties, top U.S. military officer Mike Mullen's China trip indicates that an inter-military exchange mechanism is in the making. Yet the future of China-U.S. military ties requires mutual respect and trust.
Mullen's four-day trip was fully packed with talks with China's senior leadership and visits to key army, air and navy units including the Second Artillery Force, which commands China's nuclear hardware.
These arrangements were made in order to highlight openness, transparency and self-confidence of China's military power as well as reciprocal gestures to the United States' opening of its largest naval base to Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in May.
Mullen and Chen, after Monday's closed-door talks at the PLA's headquarters in Beijing, agreed to further grow bilateral military links and to jointly maintain stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. They have also agreed to carry out a number of military exchange programs, including joint medical and rescue drills later this year and next year.
As a matter of fact, military interactions between the world's top two economies have been considered the most fragile and delicate part of overall China-U.S. relations.
The recent improvement in China-U.S. military ties faces possible challenges as the two sides still diverge over issues like U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and surveillance near Chinese coast, as well as U.S-Philippine and U.S.-Vietnamese military drills near South China Sea.