US Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated the Pentagon’s previous call for China to end its military offensive through new land reclamation in the South China Sea while he was also stressing the need for a comprehensive military contact with Beijing.
The Pentagon said the US Defense Secretary had committed to expand military contact with China regarding the maritime disputes in the South China Sea as he and General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China's powerful Central Military Commission, met on Thursday in Washington.
"The US side stressed a sustained and substantive US-China military-to-military relationship," the Pentagon said.
Carter had previously called China for an immediate end to building artificial islands in the South China Sea and urged Beijing for a peaceful solution instead of militarising the region.
"We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features," the Pentagon chief had told reporters in a military ceremony for change of command of the US Asia-Pacific navy at the end of last month.
As the military authorities met on Thursday, the parties committed to deepen cooperation in fields, such as humanitarian assistance, disaster response, peacekeeping, counter-piracy, as well as "constructive management of differences," the Pentagon stated.
The Pentagon said Carter had raised US concerns again on the maritime tension and asked all claimants to halt their offensive presence regarding the land reclamation and militarisation of the disputed waters, and to pursue a peaceful diplomatic way for the resolution within the borders of international law.
The Chinese general pays a week of official visit to the US during which he is scheduled to meet the National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Friday while he was also visiting US military sites.
China’s envoy in Washington announced on Wednesday that Fan’s trip had aimed at preparing the preconditions for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September this year.
The Chinese president will come to Washington next autumn to ameliorate the distressing bilateral relations due to the maritime disputes in the South China Sea where Beijing increased its efforts to redefine its territorial waters last year when it commenced to build seven artificial islands near by the Spratly archipelagos.
Last month, the US had sent a littoral combat ship and P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft that started prying over the international waters near the China’s artificial islands.
The US administration has reiterated several times that it will continue to patrol waters and skies of the long-disputed waters on which the Chinese navy has repeatedly warned the US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over the islands.
China has long been confronting with its maritime neighbours Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei in the South China Sea territorial waters.
The parties’ overlapping claims on maritime transportation, navigation, exclusive economic zones, fishing grounds, undersea bed gas and oil reserves have already deteriorated the problem as China started to build the artificial islands last year.
The Pentagon believes that China has added some 2,000 acres (800 hectares) to five outposts in the Spratlys, including 1,500 acres since the start of this year.
The US officials claim that Chinese military complexes are now under construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly island including a 3,000-metre runway and that airborne early warning radars will be operational by the year end.