Cohen Bound for China, Australia
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 7, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's upcoming China visit will mark full resumption of military-to-military relations following the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during NATO Operation Allied Force.
Cohen is slated to meet with senior government officials in Beijing and Shanghai, China, July 11 to 14. From China, the secretary will travel to Sydney, Australia, for a two-day visit with officials there.
Cohen last visited China in January 1998. The upcoming visit is designed to promote military relations and to improve lines of communications between both leaderships, a senior defense official told reporters here. Cohen and Chinese officials will "conduct high-level policy dialogue on a broad range of global, regional and bilateral issues," including recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. plans for a National Missile Defense System will also be a topic of discussion, the official said. "We know it's a matter of concern to the Chinese," he said, "and Secretary Cohen will try to dispel all of the fears and concerns they have about this potential system."
Discussion is also expected to focus on the U.S. commitment to provide for Taiwan's self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act. "I'm sure the Chinese will express their concern about many of the different (air defense weapon) systems that are being proposed and Secretary Cohen will express our continuing interest, obligation and commitments with regard to Taiwan," the defense official said.
In Beijing, Cohen will meet with his counterpart, Defense Minister Gen. Chi Haotian, who last visited the United States in 1996. Cohen is expected to meet with President Jiang Zemin and Vice President Hu Jintao and other officials. The secretary is also slated to address the People's Liberation Army's National Defense University.
In Shanghai, Cohen will meet with Mayor Xu Guangdi and speak at the stock exchange.
In Australia, Cohen will meet with his counterpart, Defense Minister John Moore and other senior officials including Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. "Australia serves as the southern link of our Asian Pacific alliance structure and plays a key role in ensuring peace and stability in the region," a senior defense official said.
In Sydney, the secretary will receive briefings on Australia's ongoing defense review. Officials there recently announced publication of a discussion paper aimed at involving the public in a process that will determine the future size and shape of the Australian Defense Force.
Cohen is scheduled to return to Washington July 17.