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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 679-96
December 18, 1996

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA MINISTER OF DEFENSE COMPLETES VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES

Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, State Councilor, and Minister of National Defense of the People's Republic of China, General Chi Haotian departed the United States earlier today, having completed a 14-day visit that included stops in New York City and Washington, D. C., as well as U.S. military facilities in New York, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Hawaii. General Chi was accompanied by a delegation consisting of senior military leaders from the People's Liberation Army General Staff and Logistics Departments, Navy, Air Force, and Strategic Rocket Forces, as well as the Commander of the Guangzhou Military Region Command, and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. General Chi traveled to the United States at the invitation of his counterpart, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who visited the People's Republic of China in October of 1994.

General Chi's visit was successful in furthering U.S.-China relations in general and military-to-military relations in particular, both of which are of great importance to the long- term political, military, and economic interests of the United States.

Building on the recent dialog established by Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher's November trip to Beijing and the meeting in Manila between President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin, General Chi's visit allowed for frank discussion of a wide range of issues, including non-proliferation, military-to- military relations, and Asia-Pacific regional security. The United States reiterated its position that further progress in areas such as human rights and fair trade practices are critical to the development of a full bilateral relationship. At the same time, the two sides agreed on the need for continued dialog and emphasized the importance of developing a relationship in which areas of agreement and disagreement can be discussed in an open and frank manner.

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Regarding efforts to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, as well as of destabilizing conventional arms, the United States noted its particular concern over developments in the Persian Gulf. China was urged not only to maintain and expand its commitments to nonproliferation regimes, but also to refrain from destabilizing weapons sales to rogue states, such as Iran.

The two sides affirmed their shared interest in a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. The United States emphasized that our interest is in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. With that goal in mind, the United States reiterated its commitment to a one China policy in accordance with the Three Joint Communiqus and, at the same time, a steadfast commitment to all U.S. obligations to Taiwan.

Both sides also expressed their support for further efforts to promote stability on the Korean Peninsula -- an issue which has significant, direct influence on U.S. security interests. General Chi indicated that China would continue to play a constructive role, working to maintain a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and encouraging a constructive dialog between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The United States reiterated its support for the four-party process as a means to bring about this dialog.

Regarding the U.S.-Japan security relationship, the United States explained that it serves as one of the pillars of a security strategy which benefits all of the nations within the Asia- Pacific region, including China.

The United States currently has approximately 100,000 troops deployed in the Asia- Pacific region. Contact between these troops and Chinese military forces is increasingly common. In order to enhance mutual understanding and operational safety, Secretary Perry suggested that our two countries consider a military maritime cooperative agreement, and General Chi extended an invitation for a U. S. briefing team to visit China in early 1997 to explain the proposed draft.

During General Chi's visit to Washington, D.C., the two sides also came to agreement on a number of specific initiatives designed to enhance the U.S.-PRC bilateral military relationship and also, from the U.S. perspective, to strengthen the U.S. ability to protect our security interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

First, China agreed in principle to continued U.S. port calls to Hong Kong after July 1, 1997, when Hong Kong reverts to PRC sovereignty. A U.S. briefing team will travel to Beijing in early 1997 to discuss relevant procedures.

Second, both sides agreed that a Chinese Navy ship will visit Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States in spring 1997, to be followed by U.S. Navy ship visits to the People's Republic of China.

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Third, the two sides agreed to institutionalize bilateral defense consultative talks, the first of which is expected to take place in Washington, D.C. in fall 1997, and be hosted by the under secretary of defense for policy. These talks will include an exchange of views on global and regional security issues; reciprocal briefings on military topics; and a discussion of future bilateral military activities. The talks are intended to increase mutual understanding and transparency -- both of which are important factors in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fourth, the two sides agreed to several visits of senior- level U.S. and Chinese military leaders in the first half of 1997. Such high-level contacts, scheduled at appropriate intervals, will allow both sides to advance the confidence building measures initiated during this visit and will help to regularize a high-level dialog which is critical not only for positive military relations, but equally important during periods of tension.

During his meetings with the secretary of defense at the Pentagon, General Chi gave Secretary Perry dog tags from the crew of a World War II B-24 bomber that crashed in southern China. The United States expressed appreciation for this gesture, a reminder of the cooperation between our two countries in the past, and called for continued cooperation in resolving the cases of Americans missing in action. The two sides agreed that a U.S. team will travel to Beijing in the near future to accept remains for repatriation. A second U.S. team will travel with Chinese counterparts to the crash site in early 1997 to study the site and recover any additional remains.

During visits to military bases, the Chinese delegation obtained a first-hand view of American military capabilities and gained an appreciation for the physical, intellectual and moral strength of our men and women in uniform. General Chi and colleagues also had an opportunity to learn about the American people and our values -- values which serve as the foundation for our nation's military strength as well as that which our armed forces serve and protect.

The visit of General Chi largely succeeded in meeting the objectives set forth prior to the trip. As a result of the visit, the United States and the People's Republic of China have enhanced military-to-military dialog as well as the overall bilateral relationship. We have taken the first step towards developing concrete confidence building measures between our militaries, a regular defense dialog between our leaders, and expanding our areas of cooperation. In doing so, the United States is serving its own political, economic and security interests. Moreover, the United States is also serving the broad interests of our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region who widely support a Sino-American defense dialog as critical to ensuring their own security.