The Chinese navy is using its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, for training and testing and will decide the future development of the aircraft carrier after a few years of evaluation, Admiral Wu Shengli said on Thursday.
The commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army navy, on a visit at the invitation of his US counterpart, told reporters at the Washington Navy Yard that Chinese sailors would carry out "very heavy" training over the next two or three years as they assess the carrier.
"After the training and experimentation we will have a final evaluation on the development of the aircraft carrier for the PLA navy," said Wu, whose delegation included the commander of the Liaoning and the first pilot to land on its flight deck.
He told the media the Chinese navy has displayed a high degree of transparency to the United States, adding that there were two reasons why he brought the two aircraft carrier officers along on the trip.
"One is for them to have a close look at the US navy and the other is for friends from the US navy to get to know them up close. Isn’t that transparency?" asked Wu.
Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, said taking the two officers "shows the growing capability of the Chinese navy, although it still lags far behind that of the US navy".
"It is also the most direct way to demonstrate China’s willingness to cooperate," Li said.
With a 19-gun salute and naval honor guard, Wu was welcomed to the Washington Navy Yard on Thursday morning by his US counterpart Jonathan Greenert.
The Chinese and US national anthems were played in the oldest onshore establishment of the US Navy, now a ceremonial and administrative center for the navy and home base for the chief of naval operations.
Wu, who started his US trip on Sunday, said the US attaches great importance to his visit and has made elaborate arrangements and provided a warm reception, all of which have made his trip a great success.
Greenert, who assumed his current post in 2011, expressed a hope for expanded cooperation between the two navies. "The purpose of this visit here this week has been to continue military-to-military relations, and, involving our mature relationship, look for great opportunities to share common interests and move ahead in our cooperation," said Greenert, who has been invited to visit China next year.
While Wu travels in the US, a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller was in Beijing with a Chinese delegation led by Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the PLA General Staff, for the 14th annual Defense Consultative Talks on Wednesday.
Both Miller and Wang stressed the accomplishments that US-China military ties have achieved so far this year. They discussed how to sustain positive momentum in building a constructive military relationship and advance a new model of military relations for the future.
Regarding the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea, Wang emphasized the Chinese military will always unswervingly safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and maritime interests, according to a news release from the Ministry of National Defense.
China always remains restrained when dealing with those issues and making related strategies on the basis of maintaining regional peace and stability, Wang said.
"Those issues should not become problems between China and the US, and China hopes the US does not become a third party involved in those issues," he said.
Wang also urged the US to retain the continuity of its position and policies and not to send wrong signals to support some countries on the issues in order not to harm mutual trust between Beijing and Washington.
Miller reiterated the US does not take sides in the issues and showed support for China in solving territorial issues through diplomatic consultation.
Reuters, Li Xiaokun and Zhou Wa in Beijing contributed to this story.