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Chinese Military Official Visits US at a Tense Time

Last month U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, met with Chinese Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Fan Changlong. The general is returning to the U.S. for talks on a number of issues including building projects in the South China Sea. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese Military Official Visits US at a Tense Time
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A top Chinese military official will meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday at the U.S. Defense Department. The meeting comes at a time when tensions are rising between the U.S. and China.

General Fan Changlong is the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission. He will lead a delegation to meet with Mr. Carter. U.S. officials say the visit is normal and was planned previously. But they say that the U.S. will raise concerns over the South China Sea and other issues “of mutual concern.”

The United States has objected to China’s island-building projects in the disputed area of the South China Sea. U.S. officials also have said that computer hackers in China are stealing information on millions of U.S. federal employees.

China has compared the island-building efforts to construction projects like repairing roads and building bridges. And Chinese officials call the charges of hacking “irresponsible” and, in their words, “conjectural, trumped-up allegations without deep investigation.”

Adding to the tension, the U.S.-led G7 leaders released a statement at the end of the summit meeting in Germany on Monday. The G7 is a group of seven Western economies, the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain. The statement says that, “We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation.”

Japan is an ally of the U.S. and a member of the G7. Relations between Japan and China have worsened over conflicting claims in the East China Sea. Last year, the U.S. criticized China for establishing an air defense identification zone in an area claimed by Japan.

South China Sea Territorial Claims
South China Sea Territorial Claims

Denny Roy is a senior fellow from the East-West Center in Hawaii. Mr. Roy says that the Chinese visit comes at an important time in U.S.-China relations. China is growing as an economic power and it has demanded a larger leadership role in Asia. However, the U.S. wants to maintain its traditional role of leadership in the area.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Hai Do wrote this story from a report by Victor Beattie, other VOA reports and other materials. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

mutual – adj. shared between two or more people or groups

hacker(s) – n. a person who secretly gets access to a computer system to get information or cause damage

conjectural – adj. an idea or opinion formed without proof or enough evidence

coercion – n. to attempt to make someone do something through force and with the use of threats

status quo – n. the way things are now, as things are

role – n. the part someone or some group plays in a larger group, in society or among nations