Gates: U.S., China to Move Ahead with Strategic Dialogue
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BEIJING, Nov. 6, 2007 The United States and China will move ahead with a strategic dialogue, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said following talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao here.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates speaks with members of the press about his visit to China after touring the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, Nov. 6, 2007. Defense Department photo by Cherie A. Thurlby
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Gates spoke to reporters traveling with him at Beijing’s Forbidden City. He said his meeting with Hu at the Great Hall of the People was cordial and constructive.
“We talked a good deal about the military-to-military relationship,” Gates said. “He indicated his support for moving forward with a dialogue of strategic military matters of concern to both sides.”
The meeting with the president culminated two days of intensive talks with Chinese civilian and military leaders.
He said the talks were "candid and realistic and, I think, in a friendly spirit."
The secretary said areas of "agreement and disagreement" clearly exist between the United States and China. "Talking about both is good for the relationship,” he said.
Hu said the parties discussed issues of common interest. The two sides "exchanged ideas very extensively on topics like bilateral relations and on issues of common interests," Hu said through a translator.
He said Gates’ visit will be "conducive to deeper trust between us and further the development of state-to-state relations."
"You will have a better understanding of China and vice versa," the president said.
The two sides agreed on a number of specific ways to improve military-to-military contacts between the two nations, Gates said.
The two sides agreed to install a direct telephone link between their respective defense establishments. This is the first time China has agreed to such a contact with any nation, a senior U.S. defense official said on background.
The two militaries are cooperating in a number of other areas, Gates said. They will exchange mid-level and senior officers, and there will be an exchange between military education institutions.
The Chinese have agreed to open their archives to help locate Americans listed as prisoners of war or missing in action before, during and after the Korean War. “So I think we took advantage of the opportunity to expand on those contacts,” Gates said.
The secretary also addressed issues of concern to the United States. “In all of the meetings, I expressed our concern with the pace and scope of their strategic modernization programs and the anti-satellite test,” he said.
Gates said he has high hopes for continued contacts between the United States and China. “I hope what will come out of these is an ongoing dialogue,” he said.
“It’s not a matter of just raising it and each side sort of having a set piece response, but rather to enter into a longer-term dialogue about perceptions of threats, about a world that faces the threat of nuclear proliferations and perhaps ways of finding some confidence building measures along the way,” Gates said. “But I see this as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.”
Also during the visit, Gates raised U.S. concerns about Iran with Chinese leaders. He said an Iran that is a de-stabilizing force in the Middle East is not in anyone’s interest, including China’s.
“If one is interested in long-term energy security, then a stable Persian Gulf/Middle East area is very high priority,” he said. “So, we had some interesting conversations about Iran.”
President Hu raised the issue of Taiwan during talks, Gates said.
“I restated our positions that we’re opposed to any effort by anyone unilaterally to change the status quo,” the secretary said. “This is actually a diplomatic issue, but I basically reiterated that the U.S. government has been quite clear in its messages to the leaders of Taiwan not to change the status quo.”
Gates was scheduled to next travel to Seoul for annual military meetings with his Korean counterpart.