JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Military representatives from the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China met at Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, Nov. 21-24 for bilateral talks concerning military air and naval safety.
The overall goal of the long-standing bi-annual talks, known as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA), is to provide a mechanism for open and transparent communication to address concerns and develop common understanding between U.S. and PRC air and naval forces in order to avoid unsafe incidents. The MMCA was signed between the U.S. DoD and the PRC Ministry of National Defense in January 1998 to promote common understanding regarding activities undertaken by both nations maritime and air forces when operating in accordance with international laws and norms.
As U.S. forces regularly operate in accordance with international law in and above international waters throughout the Pacific region, maintaining open lines of communications and established norms of behavior with the PRC is vital to mitigating the possibility of tactical miscalculations that could potentially escalate tensions and impact regional security.
According to event coordinators, the talks consisted of a two-day working group and a two-day plenary attended by representatives from the U.S. Pacific Command, Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as senior officials from the PRC’s air and naval forces.
“The U.S. remains fully committed to allies and partners in the region, and these agreements with the PRC are intended to deepen mutual trust, ensure safe operations and increase regional stability,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Delamater, Chief of Pacific Air Forces Advanced and Warfighter Integration Division, and lead U.S. representative at the MMCA working group. “We are genuine in our desire to build trust, develop mutual understanding and reduce the risk of safety mishaps.”
As a consultation mechanism established to prevent air and maritime incidents and strengthen regional safety, the U.S. and China agreed to hold the MMCA. While the talks are not designed to resolve areas of disagreement between U.S. and PRC forces, it presents both parties a platform to increase safety and manage risk.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding establishing the MMCA, the agreement endorsed “the need to promote common understandings regarding activities undertaken by their respective maritime and air forces when operating in accordance with international law…”
“The MMCA working group and plenary will improve transparency between U.S. and PRC military activities, which has been a top concern of the U.S. and other countries in the region,” said Capt. Simone Shen, PACAF’s Northeast Asia Regional Affairs Strategist. “We’ll be able to share our concerns and work together to construct agreements and policies that will create a safer operational environment.”