China and the US have reached an agreement on a code of safe conduct on naval and air force encounters, the Chinese Defence Ministry said on Thursday, calling the deal a move to mark new progress in building ‘mutual trust mechanisms’.
The signing of the deal coincides with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden visit to the US to bring down rising tensions between the two countries over the disputed South China Sea.
Xi will hold talks with US President Barack Obama tomorrow to improve relations between the two countries.
The two countries have signed annexes respectively about “notification of military crisis” and “encounters in the air” on major military operations and a code of safe conduct on naval and air force encounters, on September 18, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said.
“The move marks new progress in the building of the ‘two mutual trust mechanisms’,” said Wu Qian at a monthly press briefing.
Signing of the annexes will help increase strategic mutual trust between the two countries and avoid misunderstandings and accidents at sea and in the air, Wu said.
They also contribute to the two sides’ aim to build a new type of relationship between major countries and a new type of Sino-US military relationship, he said.
The agreement was announced after two Chinese military aircraft intercepted an US Air Force surveillance plane on September 15 which Pentagon said potentially “unsafe”.
“The department is reviewing a report from US (Pacific Command) regarding a September 15 intercept of a US. RC-135 by two JH-7 aircraft from the People’s Republic of China,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban was quoted as saying in the media.
“One of the manoeuvres conducted by a PRC aircraft during the intercept was perceived as unsafe by the RC-135 aircrew.
At this point there is no indication that there was a near collision,” Urban said.
China alleged close surveillance by US aircraft specially in the disputed South China Sea.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan hotly contest China’s claim over whole of South China Sea.
The US which backs the small countries in the region stepped up its presence in Asia Pacific area resulting in close encounters by its aircraft and naval ships.