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American Forces Press Service

Joint Chiefs Chairman Optimistic About Relations With China

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, March 21, 2007 – On the eve of his first trip to China, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today he is optimistic about relations with the world’s largest communist nation.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace said trade can be a way for the United States and all countries of the region to become more closely tied and to better understand one another. Pace spoke during a news conference here.

In a 39-year career, the chairman has served around the periphery of China: Vietnam, Thailand, Korea and Japan. When he started his career in 1967, the United States didn’t have diplomatic relations with what was then known as “Red China.” Today, the People’s Republic of China is working with the United States in the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear program, China’s economy is growing at 8 percent a year, and the country is the United States’ largest overseas trading partner.

The trade situation is important even from a military perspective, Pace said. “The more economic ties we have with each other, the more dependent you become on each other, the more you understand each other, the less the likelihood of miscalculations or misunderstandings,” he said.

Pace said part of his responsibility as the top-ranking military officer in the United States is to understand the military capacities of nations around the world and to ensure that the United States military has the capacity to adjust and prevail over any adversary. It doesn’t matter what country that is, he said, but he stressed the distinction between “capacity” and “threat.”

“From a purely military standpoint,” he explained, “a threat is defined as a capacity coupled with intent. There are many countries around the world that have the capacity to do harm, but they don’t have the intent to do harm.”

Pace said he will meet with Chinese military leaders and discuss new ways to work together. He said he would like to see more maritime search-and-rescue exercises with the Chinese, something that the two countries have held in the past. He called those exercises good confidence-building measures.

The general added that he’d also like to see the contacts between China and the United States reach more ranks. For example, he said, he would like to see junior officers from the United States and China attend the same schools.

“When you get to know each other and know how each other thinks, you build trust and confidence,” he said. “I’m looking for ways to respect China as a nation that deserves respect.”

He said he will work with his Chinese counterpart to be “more transparent with each other.”

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