On 5 November 2007 China and the United States announced that they will set up a military hotline between Beijing and Washington D.C. to avoid misunderstanding during any moments of crisis in the Pacific.
According to a report China's Defense Ministry long resisted the idea of such a direct line until June 2007 when General Zhang Qinsheng stated that China was ready to proceed with the establishment at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.
According to the Chinese Defense Ministry China and the United States officially signed an agreement on setting up a military hotline between the two defense departments in Shanghai on February 2008 after a working meeting between the two defense departments.
The hotline was set up on 10 April 2008.
Earlier in March 2007 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace announced that Beijing and Washington were considering an emergency hotline between leaders of the US and China during a visit in China.
An April 2013 report notes that the telephone line between the PLA and the US military is far from the hotline established between Washington and Moscow after the Cuban missile crisis. It says that the 2008 agreement with China merely arranges a call to be put through to the Zhongnanhai telecommunications directorate, which has discretion on whether to forward the call to the foreign affairs section of the Department of Defence or the PLA's command headquarters in West Beijing. Furthermore, it states that in protest against US actions the Chinese have cut off the hotline twice for extensive periods at times when it might be needed most.
In November 2015 the US and China set up a so-called space hotline allowing both nations to easily share information about activities in space and help their space and military agencies to discuss "potential collisions, approaches, or tests" to prevent misunderstanding or miscommunication from escalating to a dangerous situation. According to US assistant secretary Frank Rose an urgent safety mechanism was required due to the growing amount of potentially lethal space debris in orbit, as well as numerous undisclosed military satellite launches. The link was established amid tensions due to China ramping up tests of weapons designed to target the orbital networks upon which almost all US high-tech military capabilities depend.
In November 2011 an editorial in China Daily called for closer communication especially in cases of an emergency concerning matters of cyberwarfare. This has been referred to as a call for a Sino-American cyber "red phone".