The EastWest Institute (EWI), in partnership with the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC), convened the seventh meeting of the U.S.-China Sanya Initiative from July 6 to 9, 2016. Senior retired flag officers of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force met with retired flag officers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Washington, D.C. and New York City to discuss critical issues in the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship.
The meeting occurred against the backdrop of an impending arbitral decision on the China-Philippines dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea and a fractious U.S. presidential election campaign. While in Washington, D.C., the delegations met with Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) from the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) of the U.S.-China Working Group and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel. In New York, the delegations spent two days in off-the-record dialogue and also met with C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. Chairman and CEO Maurice Greenberg.
Substantive and candid discussions during the week focused on a number of key strategic and security issues. Participants exchanged views on China’s military reform and defense policy; maritime issues in the South and East China Seas; U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea; cross-strait relations; and other issues of mutual interest such as North Korea, cybersecurity and counterterrorism. Both sides agreed that continued dialogue, transparency and mutual trust are essential to fostering bilateral relations and avoiding strategic misjudgment.
Since 2008, the Sanya Initiative has regularly brought together retired U.S. and Chinese senior generals and admirals in order to build stronger military-to-military ties between the two countries.
Photo credits: Kaveh Sardari