BEIJING: The US should walk with China toward the same goal instead of continuing provocations in the sea and air spaces around it, Chinese Defence Ministry said on Thursday as it vowed to protect its sovereignty and security interests.
China's defence spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian told an online media briefing that senior officials from both militaries have had a telephone conversation last week and agreed to strengthen communication, properly manage differences and disagreements, and expand cooperation in fields of common interests.
The US should walk with China toward the same goal instead of continuing provocations in the sea and air spaces around China, he said.
Asked if China-US military exchanges could proceed as normal as they faced multiple challenges coupled with the severe COVID-19 pandemic, Wu said working groups from the two militaries have conducted video conferences on crisis communication in the past two days.
The two sides have also planned to conduct seminars on military humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and consultations on maritime security issues by way of video conferences respectively in the coming mid-November and December, he said.
On reports that the US is considering using MQ-9 Reaper drones to attack some of the islands in the disputed South China Sea in case of an unfavourable situation for President Donald Trump's election campaign, Wu said that US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has already clarified through military and diplomatic channels that the relevant reports are not consistent with facts, and the US side has no intention of creating a military crisis against China.
"Maintaining communication between the two militaries is very important under the current circumstances.
We urge the US side to keep their words, take effective measures to stop military provocations in the sea and air spaces around China, and stop any actions that harm China's core interests and major concerns, Wu said.
Should anyone dare to stir up a conflict on the sea, the Chinese side will fight back resolutely to safeguard its national sovereignty and security interests, he said.
The US-China military tensions heightened in recent months over the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan.
China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea area while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over it.
The US in recent months has stepped up naval and aerial patrols over the area to assert the right of freedom of navigation.
The Chinese military closely tailed the US patrols sparking tensions.
China is also concerned over US naval ships travelling through the Taiwan straits and high-tech arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its mainland.