2011-03-31 (China Military News cited from AFP) — China said Thursday its army chief of staff would visit the United States in May, as the two countries try to bolster military relations amid their growing rivalry.
“The two armies are now faced with new opportunities for development of their relations,” defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told reporters as China released a white paper outlining its defence policy.
He said Chen Bingde, chief of staff at the People’s Liberation Army, would visit the United States in May as part of efforts to strengthen military ties — a major point of friction in wider Sino-US relations.
Tensions soared early last year when China suspended high-level defence contacts with the United States over Washington’s sale of more than $6 billion in arms to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its own territory.
Tentative plans for US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to visit were subsequently called off, but he finally came to China in January this year — his first trip to Beijing since 2007.
Geng said there were plans for more meetings between the two defence departments this year.
US military leaders and China’s neighbours are increasingly anxious about the People’s Liberation Army’s pursuit of sophisticated missiles, satellites, cyber-weapons and fighter jets.