Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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Statesman US Army General Meets with Senior PLA Officers amid Rising Tensions in Asia


(Photo : US Army) Gen. Mark Milley and a THAAD battery launching an interceptor.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, is currently in China even as tensions remain at dangerous levels over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile missile system in South Korea and China's refusal to heed an international tribunal's decision nullifying its claim to own the South China Sea.

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Described by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as "a warrior and a statesman," Gen. Milley will meet with senior officers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) led by Gen. Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff and a member of the Central Military Commission.

The four-star American general who once led the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan will discuss issues of concern and "identify ways to deepen practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest while also constructively managing differences."

Gen. Milley, 58, will also visit the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the highest-level research institute of the PLA headquartered in Beijing, to exchange views with faculty led by its president, Gen. Cai Yingting, and students.

Following his trip to China, Gen. Milley will travel to South Korea to meet with U.S. Army troops and hold discussions with Korean military leaders on the THAAD deployment and other issues. He will then travel on to another key U.S. ally and Japan.

High on the agenda of Gen. Milley's visit will be the deployment to South Korea in 2017 of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), an anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill warhead.

China has harshly objected to the decision to base THAAD at two sites in South Korea, claiming the system's X-Band radar is really intended to track China's missiles inside China. On the other hand, the U.S. says THAAD's purpose to destroy North Korean missiles.

Gen. Milley will likely reiterate Washington's position China abide by the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that ruled China has no legal basis to claim historic rights within the nine-dash line in the South China Sea.

The Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army. The CSA is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army.

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