BEIJING (Reuters) - China and the United States agreed at a meeting earlier this month in Washington to speed up talks on a mutual reporting mechanism on major military operations and a code of safe conduct, China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the agreement was reached during talks between Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Wang Guanzhong and U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Christine Wormuth.
“Both sides believe that deepening cooperation in all areas and constructively dealing with disputes is extremely important,” Yang told a monthly news briefing.
“Both sides agreed to speed up consultations on a mutual reporting mechanism on major military operations and a code of safe conduct on naval and air military encounters,” he added, without providing details.
The United States wants clearer operational communications with the growing Chinese navy fleet, arrangements in part hampered by different interpretations of what sort of movements are acceptable in international waters, U.S. naval officers say.
The risks of a mishap were highlighted in December when the U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a warship supporting China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
In April, countries embroiled in territorial rows in the East and South China Seas agreed to abide by a maritime communications deal to try to ensure accidental naval altercations do not develop into conflict.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie