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American Forces Press Service

Gates Discusses Steps to Deepen Military Exchanges With China

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BEIJING, Nov. 5, 2007 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Cao Gangchuan discussed ways to broaden and deepen U.S.-Chinese defense relations during meetings here today.

During a joint news conference, Gates called the U.S. relationship with China “candid, constructive and cooperative.” The two leaders discussed ways to build on the momentum.

China’s economic growth has made the country a leader not only regionally but around the world, Gates said.

“China’s increasing political and economic stature calls for this country to take on a greater share of responsibility for the health and success of the international system,” the secretary said.

The two men announced an agreement to implement a direct telephone link between the Pentagon and the Ba Yi building where the meetings today were held.

“We discussed the need to move forward and deepen our military-to-military dialogue including on nuclear policy, strategy and doctrine,” Gates said. “We agreed to enhance military exchanges at all levels.”

U.S. defense officials have been calling for more transparency in Chinese military policy. “I raised with Minister Cao the uncertainty over China military modernization, and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns,” Gates said.

Gates and Cao discussed the Chinese role in international issues such as Iran. “We discussed the importance of Iran not having nuclear weapons and there not being a proliferation problem,” Gates said.

“We agreed that it is important to pursue efforts to persuade the Iranian government to change their behavior and policies peacefully, through diplomatic means,” Gates said. “And I would say I added the importance of continuing the increased economic pressures as a way of persuading the Iranian government to make different choices.”

Gates said progress in defense exchanges will largely depend on the choices the two countries make.

“I look forward to working with the minister of defense and other Chinese leaders to continue building mutual trust and confidence between our two countries,” he said.

The Chinese believe it is important that the two nations expand the military exchange program “to all fields and to all levels,” Cao said. “It is important that we exchange ideas and notes on issues that we are both interested in so as to enhance our consensus on those issues.”

The Chinese also agreed that the two navies conduct a joint exercise with a relatively more complex scenario “at the proper time,” Cao said.

“We also agreed to have better cooperation in military archives so we could render help in the accounting for U.S. prisoner of war/missing in action before, during and after the Korean War,” Cao said.

“Dr. Gates’ visit is an important program of the military-to-military exchanges between the armed forces of China and the United States,” Cao said through a translator. “The Chinese government and the Chinese armed forces have placed great importance in Dr. Gates visit.”

“I think our dialogue has been pragmatic, candid and productive, and it is my belief that Mr. Gates’ visit will, over time, enhance mutual understanding and deepen our friendship and cooperation,” Cao said.

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