A review by The Wall St. Journal of the 12 deaths of Chinese military personnel in the conflict in the Middle East has highlighted the deep and lasting political and military strains in the region.
The deaths included six senior Chinese officers and one officer from the US Pacific Command.
Among them, two were senior generals, and one was a captain of the elite People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The deaths are among the most significant military incidents in the history of China-US relations, which were rocked by a series of deadly incidents that left at least 17 Chinese citizens dead, including two in Malaysia and three in Vietnam.
China has said the deaths are due to a malfunction of its military’s equipment.
The death of Gen. Li Zhenqiang and Gen. Zhao Zhiqiang has triggered intense political pressure on the Trump administration, and has drawn criticism from the United States, as well as the United Kingdom and Japan.
The US military is the largest contributor to the defense budget, which was $2.4 trillion last year.
The United States is currently negotiating a new bilateral defense agreement with China.
China views the US-China military relationship as a strategic partnership that would help it counter Russia’s military buildup in Asia.
But its military activities have increased in recent years and in the face of increased US efforts to contain China’s military, and with Washington’s support for South Korea’s territorial claims in the East China Sea.
China and the United State have had an uneasy relationship for decades.
In recent years, Beijing has deployed more than 10,000 troops to Vietnam and its other neighbors, and it has increased its military presence in the South China Sea and the Philippines.
Beijing and Washington have fought a series on China’s maritime territorial claims and trade disputes, which the Chinese government has said violate international law.
China maintains that the United Nations has not been able to resolve the disputes.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday announced a new initiative to expand and improve bilateral military cooperation in the area.
The new effort would allow the US to enhance cooperation and provide better information to other nations on the location, capabilities, and activities of military assets deployed by China, according to a statement.
Mattis, who is in Asia on a trade mission, also said he is looking forward to discussing the latest military developments in the Asia-Pacific region with his Chinese counterpart, the ministry said.