Cohen's China Visit Highlights Mutual Interests
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
BEIJING, Jul. 12, 2000 The Chinese army rolled out the red carpet here July 12 for the arrival of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen.
Chinese Gen. Haotian Chi , national defense minister (front left), and U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen (right) review Chinese military forces during a full honors arrival ceremony July 12, 2000, at the ministry of defense headquarters in Beijing. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Cohen's visit to the Chinese capital was his first since officials here severed military ties with the United States last year following the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, during NATO Operation Allied Force.
At the start of his meeting with National Defense Minister Gen. Haotian Chi and other defense officials, Cohen asked the Chinese leaders to zero in on mutual interests rather than differences.
"While there is a tendency to focus on issues that are in contention," he said, "you and I and all our delegations agree that there are many many issues where we have a mutual interest in working together." The secretary then stressed the need to keep lines of communication between the two nations open at all times.
"The important thing is that throughout good times and bad, we always maintain the ability to have constructive dialogue, to be able to sit across from one another to discuss the issues openly, promptly and honestly," he told Chi.
Through an interpreter, Chi said he hoped the current meetings would help maintain the momentum of developing good relations, further deepen mutual understanding and inject fresh vitality to the long-term growth of China-U.S. relations. Following their meeting, Cohen and Chi signed an environmental protection research and development information exchange agreement.
Two years ago, Cohen noted, the United States and China agreed to exchange environmental information. "This agreement builds on that by calling for an exchange of visits by high level officials and the opening of dialogue on how to address these common environmental problems," he said.
"A Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit the United States later this year to look at how we can work to minimize water and air pollution at our training bases. Later this year, our deputy under secretary of defense for environmental issues is scheduled to visit China."
The United States and China use different methods to minimize environmental damage, Cohen said. "The United States tends to stress the use of technology, while China emphasizes natural processes and procedures," he said. "It's clear that we can learn from each other's methods."
Chi said friendly relations and cooperation serve both nations' fundamental interests and the interest of prosperity and development in the Asia-Pacific Region and the world at large. The Chinese are willing to work with the United States to ensure the smooth implementation of the agreement for the benefit of both nations, he said.
"The region and the world are more stable when the United States and China work together to solve problems," Cohen said. "Though we may disagree on some issues, we benefit from this opportunity to explain our disagreements and to build on the areas, which are many, on which we agree."