(CNN)The most senior US general has ordered a comprehensive review of US military interactions with Chinese forces over the last five years as concerns about Beijing’s assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region increases, according to three defense officials.
By launching the review, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley is seeking to gain a detailed understanding of all interactions between the two militaries, especially any that could be deemed “unsafe” or “unprofessional” due to Chinese aircraft or ships operating too close to US military assets. Officials tell CNN the aim is to have a solid look at any changes in patterns of Chinese military activity.
“China has been on the rise, economically and militarily, for more than a decade. They’ve become more bold in the Pacific,” Milley said in a written statement to CNN. “Maintaining open lines of communication and managing competition will reduce strategic risk. The US military’s focus is on modernization and readiness. Our network of partners and allies is a source of strength.”
Interactions between the two militaries are so sensitive that incidents are often not made public. For example, in June, a US C-130 transport plane being operated by US special forces had some type of encounter with Chinese aircraft, but the Pentagon has not publicly acknowledged the incident.
Milley asked for an initial internal staff review before his July 7 video teleconference call with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng. “Gen. Milley discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication. Gen. Milley underscored the importance of the People’s Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue on improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risk,” according to a statement issued by Milley’s office shortly after the call.