The U.S. Air Force last week issued updated guidance both to foster and to limit contacts with Chinese military personnel, based in part on classified Defense Department directives.
“With the rise of PRC influence in the international community and the increasing capabilities of the Chinese military, Air Force military-to-military relationship with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is becoming more crucial than before,” the Air Force document stated.
See Conduct of USAF Contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Government of the Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the PRC, Air Force Instruction 16-118, August 5, 2015.
The Instruction provides a framework for conducting reciprocal US-PRC visits to each other’s military installations.
“The success of these visits, whether US or PRC-led, directly affects relationships between the US and the PRC, as well as our relationships with our allies and partners, and is thereby important in support of national and regional politico-military objectives.”
But the Instruction also identifies numerous topical areas that are likely to be off-limits for USAF-PRC military contacts.
“[P]rohibited contacts… may involve: force projection operations, nuclear operations, advanced combined-arms and joint combat operations, advanced logistical operations, chemical and biological defense and other capabilities related to weapons of mass destruction, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, joint war-fighting experiments and other activities related to a transformation in warfare, military space operations, other advanced capabilities of the armed forces, arms sales or military-related technology transfers, release of classified or restricted information, and access to a DoD laboratory.”
The new USAF Instruction implements two classified DoD Instructions, which have not been released: Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) C-2000.23, Conduct of DoD Contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and DoDI S-2000.24, Conduct of DoD Contacts with the Government of Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the PRC.
The Congressional Research Service produced a related report on U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress, updated October 27, 2014.