U.S., China Must Cooperate as World Powers, Gates Says

BEIJING, Jan. 10, 2011 — The Unit­ed States and Chi­na are world pow­ers that need to coop­er­ate, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, is greeted by Chinese Gen. Ma Xiaotian, the Chinese army's deputy chief of staff, at Beijing International Airport, Jan. 9, 2011. Gates arrived for a four-day visit to meet with senior Chinese leaders. DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison
Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, left, is greet­ed by Chi­nese Gen. Ma Xiaot­ian, the Chi­nese army’s deputy chief of staff, at Bei­jing Inter­na­tion­al Air­port, Jan. 9, 2011. Gates arrived for a four-day vis­it to meet with senior Chi­nese lead­ers.
DOD pho­to by Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Jer­ry Mor­ri­son
Click to enlarge

At a news con­fer­ence with after their meet­ing at the Bayi Build­ing, Gates and Gen. Liang Guan­glie, China’s min­is­ter of nation­al defense, spoke of the impor­tance of strong, reli­able mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary con­tacts between the nations. 

“Our two nations now have an extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ty to define our rela­tion­ship not by the obsta­cles that at times divide us, but by the oppor­tu­ni­ties that exist to fos­ter greater coop­er­a­tion and bring us clos­er togeth­er,” Gates said. 

Both men not­ed that Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma want good mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties between the nations. 

Lat­er, Gates met with Chi­nese Vice Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple. “We’ve seen the Unit­ed States and Chia coop­er­ate to address sev­er­al issues on the inter­na­tion­al front that pose dan­gers both region­al­ly and across the world,” Gates said to Xi. “These are exam­ples of what we can accom­plish when we work together.” 

The Chi­nese cut off mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties after the U.S. gov­ern­ment sold defen­sive weapons to Tai­wan last year. Gates has stressed that the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship must con­tin­ue in good times and bad. 

“We are in strong agree­ment that in order to reduce the chances of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion, mis­un­der­stand­ing or mis­cal­cu­la­tion, it is impor­tant that our mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties are sol­id, con­sis­tent and not sub­ject to shift­ing polit­i­cal winds,” Gates said. 

Liang seemed to agree. Through a trans­la­tor, the Chi­nese defense min­is­ter said both coun­tries desire a healthy mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship. “We both rec­og­nize that enhanc­ing and main­tain­ing dia­logue and com­mu­ni­ca­tion at all lev­els is of great sig­nif­i­cance in the devel­op­ment of mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions,” Liang said. Both sides share a respon­si­bil­i­ty to build mutu­al trust, he added. 

The Unit­ed States and Chi­na have more unit­ing them than divid­ing them, both men said. The Unit­ed States and Chi­na agreed to coop­er­ate on coun­tert­er­ror­ism, coun­ter­pira­cy, human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions and dis­as­ter assis­tance. The Unit­ed States pro­posed, and the Chi­nese agreed, to study begin­ning a strate­gic secu­ri­ty dia­logue “as part of a broad­er strate­gic and eco­nom­ic dia­logue that cov­ers, nuclear, mis­sile defense, space and cyber issues,” Gates said. 

The two agreed to pick up and move out on sev­en high-pri­or­i­ty areas for devel­op­ing mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions that Gates nego­ti­at­ed with Gen. Xu Cai­hou, vice chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, in Octo­ber 2009. They include high-lev­el vis­its, insti­tu­tion­al­ized exchange pro­grams and mil­i­tary education. 

The high-lev­el vis­its will begin soon with Gen. Chen Bingde, the Chi­nese army’s chief of staff, vis­it­ing the Unit­ed States in the com­ing months as the guest of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The two men sought to insti­tu­tion­al­ize and nor­mal­ize con­tacts between the two mil­i­taries, agree­ing that the defense con­sul­ta­tive talks, the defense pol­i­cy coor­di­na­tion talks and the mil­i­tary mar­itime con­sul­ta­tive agree­ment can serve as impor­tant chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the two nations. Liang announced that the two nations agreed to hold the mil­i­tary mar­itime work­ing group meet­ing and the defense pol­i­cy coor­di­na­tion talks in the first half of this year. 

The Unit­ed States and Chi­na also will put togeth­er a joint work­ing group that will dis­cuss the guid­ing prin­ci­ples and frame­work for mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions and pro­duce work­ing doc­u­ments for approval. 

Gates and Liang both stressed that the coop­er­a­tion will expand mutu­al inter­ests and avoid mis­un­der­stand­ing and miscalculation. 

Chi­na and the Unit­ed States share many com­mon inter­ests and con­cerns that can best be addressed coop­er­a­tive­ly, Gates said, not­ing that the two nations can work togeth­er address­ing the chal­lenges posed by the spread of nuclear, space, cyber and mis­sile tech­nol­o­gy. They also can work to main­tain peace and secu­ri­ty on the Kore­an penin­su­la by facil­i­tat­ing engage­ment between the two Kore­as and work­ing toward the de-nucleariza­tion of the Kore­an penin­su­la, he added. 

Chi­na and the Unit­ed States also can coop­er­ate to pre­vent Iran from obtain­ing a nuclear weapon and to defuse glob­al con­flicts and tensions. 

U.S. ser­vice mem­bers can expect more joint exer­cis­es with the Chi­nese military. 

“Not only will joint exer­cis­es improve key capa­bil­i­ties on both sides,” Gates said, “they will also lead to safer prac­tices for our sea and air forces and over time cul­ti­vate trust and lead to more oppor­tu­ni­ties for defense cooperation.” 

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

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