WASHINGTON — The heads of the US and Chinese navies conferred for two hours Tuesday night in a scheduled video teleconference (VTC), part of a regular series of exchanges between the two naval leaders.
Adm. John Richardson, US chief of naval operations (CNO), and Chinese head of Navy Adm. Wu Shengli, “agreed that 2015 was a year of many highlights for the Navy-to-Navy relationship,” said a US Navy official, adding that each leader conveyed the willingness to build on that progress in 2016.
Other topics discussed, according to the official, included port visits and personnel exchanges. Both leaders were “satisfied and encouraged” by the increased use of Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) protocols, an agreement between the US, China and a number of other nations that sets rules and procedures for governing encounters at sea with the aim of defusing potential conflict.
Few other details were available about the discussions, although it is thought the Navy chiefs also discussed the upcoming mid-summer Rim of the Pacific exercises, when China again is expected to be invited to participate.
It was the third time Richardson had participated in a VTC with Wu. The first was in late summer 2015, when Richardson, then the prospective CNO, joined his predecessor Adm. Jonathan Greenert in talks with the Chinese leader. Wu and Richardson spoke again in October after the transit of the US destroyer Lassen through waters in the South China Sea claimed by China.
“I value these discussions,” Richardson said in a statement. “Face-to-face interaction and frank exchanges help build a personal connection that benefits both our navies now and into the future.”
Both admirals, the US Navy official said, discussed opportunities to meet in person for the first time later this year.
Another VTC is scheduled for late spring, the US Navy official added, “unless emergent issues arise before then.”