Chinese Leaders Welcome Pace to Beijing
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BEIJING, March 22, 2007 Chinese leaders today warmly welcomed Marine Gen. Peter Pace here as he began a visit intended to expand military-to-military contacts between the United States and the world’s most populous nation.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guangile, salute while listening to their national anthems during a ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Beijing, March 22. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Our military, economic and political ties are important to peace in Asia and the world,” Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “This visit is very important to the militaries of both nations. I truly believe the future is very bright for U.S.-Chinese cooperation.”
Pace was beaming as his walked down the steps of his C-40B aircraft upon arrival. It is the chairman’s first visit to China after many years of military service in Asia.
Chinese military leaders honored Pace with a troop review at the Defense Ministry’s Bayi Building, near Tiananmen Square. His counterpart, People’s Liberation Army Gen. Liang Guanglie, hosted the event and held the first meeting with the chairman. Vice Chairman of the Chinese Military Commission Gen. Cao Gangchuan held the second meeting with Pace. Finally the chairman called on Gen. Guo Boxiong, roughly the equivalent to the national security advisor, who visited Pace last year in Washington.
Pace said the meetings were candid and friendly and added that it’s easy to speak with other military professionals.
The general said he stressed that cooperation between the United States and China will help bring “peace, stability and prosperity” to both countries.
Pace discussed a full range of concerns with the Chinese military leaders. The Chinese want more military-to-military contacts at the most senior levels of DoD, he said, but they also want military contacts at junior-officer levels. The exchange of young officers for professional military education is “a way for our young officers to get to know each other and understand one another,” he said. “This will produce benefits for 20, 25, 30 years in the future.”
Pace also discussed more maritime search-and-rescue operations with the Chinese leaders.
Pace said the Chinese brought up the situation between China and Taiwan. The chairman said he told the Chinese leaders that U.S. actions in this respect are dominated by the “‘One China Policy,’ the ‘Three Communiques’ (between the United States and China), the Taiwan Relations Act and a sincere desire to see reunification done in a peaceful manner.”
Discussions included talk of the Chinese defense budget, which recently jumped almost 18 percent to about $44 billion per year. Critics in the United States see this as a sign of an aggressive China seeking hegemony first in Asia and then elsewhere in the world. Pace said he told the Chinese that he sees China building defense capacity, but that the country doesn’t appear to have the intent to use the forces to attack other nations.
The chairman said the Chinese explained they are modernizing their military and trying to develop a more professional force. This requires money and, they told him, much of the increase is attributable to pay raises and personnel costs for Chinese soldiers.
Pace said he told the Chinese that no one questions the need for China to modernize its military, but that making the process more transparent would help all countries in the region and world.
Pace will continue his visit to China tomorrow.