Headlines: Chinese and American Military Exercises are Received with Optimism and Skepticism

(Photo credit: USARPAC)


Unprecedented Chinese and American Disaster Relief Drills held in Hawaii

On November 15, Xinhua news trumpeted a breakthrough in US-Chinese military relations, as the United States and China engaged in joint military exercises in Hawaii. The two militaries, which have traditionally had a tense relationship, cooperated in two exercises. In the first simulation, American and Chinese soldiers helped a hypothetical third country that had just endured a hurricane and a resulting toxic chemical leak. In the second simulation, the soldiers performed search and rescue operations in a country that had just suffered large-scale casualties after an earthquake.  Xinhua interviewed the Vice Political Commissioner of the Chengdu Military Division, who stated that these military exercises will improve mutual trust and understanding. He predicted that increased cooperation between the two militaries and countries would produce positive effects for both parties.

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Chinese-American Military Cooperation Signals the Construction of a New Military Relationship – Song Yian

China.com.cn’s reporter Song Yian likewise heralded the recent US-Chinese military exercises as unprecedented in scope and as an indicator of future military cooperation. In fact, China invited the United States to participate in multinational exercises next year. These exercises represent a thaw in American-Chinese relations, which had become tense since President Obama’s decisions to sell arms to Taiwan and to announce a pivot to Asia. Song Yian reasoned that the change in relations was ultimately due to the summit held in June between Obama and Xi Jinping, where the two leaders sought to create mutual understanding between the world’s two great powers. However, he voiced suspicions that the United States’ ulterior motive for holding the exercises was to assess the strength of China’s modernizing military. Song Yian suggests that the American military is concerned about the possibilities that China would attempt to force unification with Taiwan or that the Diaoyu-Senkaku conflict between Japan and China would turn violent. While suspicious of U.S. motives, Song Yian predicts that cooperation of this sort between Americans and Chinese may reduce the possibility of the worst possible scenario for each country: a violent Chinese-American war. Additionally, the prospect of future cooperation between the two great powers has created room for optimism.

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Patrick Chester

graduated from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies in 2014 with an MA in International Politics and a regional focus on China. During the years 2009 and 2010, he studied Chinese at Beijing Foreign Studies University in Beijing, China. During his term as a staff writer on China Focus, Patrick wrote on numerous topics relating to China including Chinese economic policy and conflict in the South China Sea. He also took active roles in the student groups China Focus and China Language Film Society. He intends to pursue a PhD in Political Science and continue to research China's political development.

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