Gates Says China Relations Ready for Next Level

MUTIANYU, Chi­na, Jan. 12, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates end­ed his meet­ings in Chi­na today, say­ing the dis­cus­sions he had with Chi­nese offi­cials will take the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries to the next lev­el.
Gates end­ed his trip with a vis­it to the Great Wall. Per­haps the largest defense project in the world, the wall snakes along ridge­lines north of Bei­jing.

In the morn­ing, Gates vis­it­ed the head­quar­ters of the Peo­ples’ Lib­er­a­tion Army’s 2nd Artillery Corps. The corps has con­trol of China’s nuclear weapons and the means to con­trol them.

Gates spoke to reporters trav­el­ing with him atop the Great Wall. He praised the vis­it and his Chi­nese hosts. Dur­ing his vis­it, he met with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao, Vice Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Gen. Xu Cai­hou, the vice chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mit­tee, Nation­al Defense Min­is­ter Gen. Liang Guan­glie and For­eign Min­is­ter Yang Jiechi.

“The dis­cus­sions were pro­duc­tive and set the stage for tak­ing the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship to the next lev­el,” the sec­re­tary said.

Gates said he had “very can­did” con­ver­sa­tions with Gen. Jing Zhiyuan, com­man­der of the 2nd Artillery Corps, and that Jing accept­ed his invi­ta­tion to vis­it the U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., lat­er this year.

“This is part of the step-by-step process of build­ing this rela­tion­ship,” the sec­re­tary said.

Gates stressed repeat­ed­ly dur­ing his vis­it to Bei­jing that enhanc­ing the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship will take time and will require com­mit­ment on both sides to main­tain it regard­less of which way the polit­i­cal winds blow.

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sions at the 2nd Artillery Corps, Gates said, U.S. and Chi­nese lead­ers dis­cussed Chi­nese nuclear pol­i­cy and its over­all approach to nuclear con­flict. “We talked about their no-first-use pol­i­cy, about com­mand and con­trol and sev­er­al oth­er sub­jects,” the sec­re­tary said. “I felt that it was a wide-rang­ing and a pret­ty open con­ver­sa­tion.” Over­all, the sec­re­tary said, he was pleased with the recep­tion he received from Chi­nese offi­cials.

“What came across to me is both the mil­i­tary and civil­ian lead­er­ship seemed deter­mined to car­ry this rela­tion­ship fur­ther and build upon it,” he said. “Are there those who have issues with it? Pos­si­bly, but I did­n’t meet them on my trip, and I’m very encour­aged going for­ward.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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