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One way to boost US-China military cooperation

Environmental issues offer fertile common ground for building confidence and relations.

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Recently, the Defense Department warned that lack of Chinese transparency and dialogue between the Chinese and US militaries could lead to dangerous miscalculations on both sides. The tense confrontation between a US Naval survey vessel and five Chinese ships in the South China Sea in March echoed the rather serious 2001 Hainan Island incident, which was characterized by mutual suspicion and public acrimony. That event affected US-China relations for years. [Editor’s note: The original version mischaracterized the Hainan Island incident.]

To avoid further incidents, the Defense Department desires "deeper, broader, more high-level contacts with the Chinese," said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell. The White House issued a statement stressing the "importance of raising the level and frequency of the US-China military-to-military dialogue," and President Obama quickly laid the groundwork by meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in London and agreeing to work to improve military-to-military relations.

One such way to begin military dialogue between the United States and China is by using environmental issues.

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