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American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld Arrives in China to Discuss Security Issues, Concerns

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BEIJING, Oct. 18, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived here today to continue building on an evolving relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China, which he acknowledged has faced "ups and downs" but has become increasingly important to long-term security in the region and the world.

The visit, Rumsfeld's first here as defense secretary, represents part of an ongoing "give and take" between the two countries as they work to find common ground on political, economic and military fronts.

Rumsfeld's trip comes on the tails of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit here and a month before President Bush is scheduled to travel to China.

"Clearly we have political and economic interaction with them that's considerable," the secretary said of the Chinese, telling reporters traveling with him en route here he hopes to see an improvement in military relations as well.

"The EP-3 incident in 2001 clearly set back the military-to-military relationship" between the two countries, Rumsfeld acknowledged.

In April 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane and a Chinese F-8 fighter jet collided over international waters south of China. When the heavily damaged EP-3 made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, Chinese officials detained the crew for 11 days and the plane for more than three months.

"We've been incrementally taking some steps since" to restore the two countries' military relationship, Rumsfeld said, noting ship visits and high-level military exchanges have started to resume.

China also has been an influential partner in the so-called Six-Party Talks aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the secretary said.

He expressed hope that China will lend its influence and military capability to other constructive efforts as well. "Certainly we are looking for ways that we can cooperate to a greater extent in the war on terror and other common interests," he said.

China is already showing strong indications of that cooperation. Immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, China offered strong public support for the war on terror and has since been an important partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

China supported U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, publicly supporting steps to combat international terrorism. It also contributed $150 million of bilateral assistance to Afghan reconstruction following the Taliban's defeat. China also pledged $25 million for Iraq's reconstruction.

Rumsfeld will explore these and other mutual interests during a full schedule of events that includes meetings with President Hu Jintao and Minister of National Defense Cao Gangchuan and visits to China's Central Party School and its Strategic Rocket Forces headquarters.

The secretary said he's not looking for any concrete outcome or commitment from his discussions with the Chinese, but expects to gain insights from his discussions about China's intentions and plans for the future.

Among topics likely to be discussed is China's military spending, which by some accounts represents two and a half to three times what the Chinese say it is, and its ambitious military modernization and weapons program.

These are issues Rumsfeld said trouble many countries, not just the United States, particularly because China is not "transparent" about what it's doing and, particularly, how much it's spending.

Rumsfeld said he's hopeful the visit and sharing of views will help reaffirm a positive relationship with "an important country in the region that's increasingly important in the world."

"Its economy is growing at a smart clip, (and) they are active worldwide," the secretary said. "And it's a country we would like to see engage the world, as they are, in a peaceful and constructive way."

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