The Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a healthy and stable military-to-military relationship between China and the United States is in both countries' interest, especially when bilateral ties are at a crucial juncture.
The comment came after the U.S. Navy said in a statement that Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, is currently visiting China to meet with the Central Military Commission leadership and Chinese Navy commander Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong.
The goal of the three-day visit, to be concluded on Wednesday, is to continue a dialogue between the two militaries that is focused on results and risk reduction, it said.
"I am looking forward to this trip," Richardson said in the U.S. statement. "A routine exchange of views is essential, especially in times of friction, in order to reduce risk and avoid miscalculation."
The ministry said it hoped "the U.S. will work with China to maintain strategic communication, strengthen dialogue within mechanisms, promote cooperation at various levels, accumulate mutual trust and manage differences, as agreed on by the leaders of the two countries, in order to mold military ties into a stabilizer of the China-U.S. relationship".
This is Richardson's second visit to China. During his first, in 2016, he toured the People's Liberation Army Navy's submarine academy and aircraft carrier Liaoning.
Speaking of the new visit, Li Haidong, a professor of U.S. studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said "It will help to enhance mutual understanding between the two militaries so that they can have effective communication and control disputes in the event of a crisis".
Military-to-military communication is crucial, given Beijing and Washington's differences of understanding regarding "freedom of navigation", which the U.S. has claimed as justification for sending warplanes and warships to the South China Sea several times, he said.
Last week, a U.S. warship trespassed in China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, prompting a stern rebuke from China.