U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated a U.S. call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea while stressing that the Pentagon remained committed to expanding military contacts with China.
In the meeting with General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, Carter stressed his commitment to developing “a sustained and substantive U.S.-China military-to-military relationship,” the Pentagon said.
It said this would be based on a shared desire to deepen cooperation in areas, including humanitarian assistance, disaster response, peacekeeping, counter-piracy, as well as “constructive management of differences”.
In reiterating U.S. concerns about tensions in the South China Sea, Carter called on Chinaand all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarization of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, the Pentagon statement said.
Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach a consensus by September on a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing the risk of accidents when the two countries’ aircraft operate in close proximity, the statement said.
Fan’s visit to the Pentagon was part of a week-long visit to the United States, which will include a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Friday. Earlier this week, Fan visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and U.S. military bases.