MINISTER CAO (through interpreter): Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. At my invitation, your Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates, is right now visiting China. Dr. Gates arrived in Beijing last evening. He is scheduled to leave Beijing on the 6th.
Today, Dr. Gates’ visit is an important program of the military-to-military exchanges between the two armed forces of China and the United States. The Chinese government and Chinese armed forces have placed great importance to Mr. Gates’ visit. We have made very thoughtful and careful arrangements for his visit in China.
Just now, we have had extensive discussions and reached important agreement in our discussions on the international and regional situation, on state-to-state and military-to-military relations between China and United States, and also we talked about specific approaches and measures to further devote exchanges and cooperation between our two armed forces.
I think that our dialogue has been pragmatic, candid and productive, and it is my belief that Mr. Gates visit this time will further enhance mutual understanding and deepen our friendship and cooperation. Now, Mr. Gates, please.
SECRETARY GATES: Thank you, Mr. Minister. I want to express our gratitude to the people of China for their warm hospitality.
First, the Minister has just informed me that China’s lunar probe has successfully reached lunar orbit, and I congratulate him and the people of China on this achievement. It’s clearly a credit to Chinese industry and innovation.
Likewise, next year’s Beijing Olympics represents the proud culmination of years of effort by Chinese leaders, athletes, and citizens, and I know that President Bush looks forward to attending this historic event.
After almost 30 years of unprecedented economic growth, China is a leader in the Asia Pacific region, with significant influence around the globe. China’s increasing political and economic stature calls for this country to take on a greater share of responsibility for the health and success of the international system.
The United States has a relationship with China that is candid, constructive, and cooperative. Minister Cao and I discussed ways to build on positive momentum in our defense relations and how to use these interactions to improve communications and reduce the risk of misunderstanding.
We reached agreement on implementation of a direct telephone link between our two defense establishments. We discussed the need to move forward and deepen our military-to-military dialogue, including on nuclear policy strategy and doctrine. We agreed to enhance military exchanges at all levels.
I raised with Minister Cao the uncertainty over China’s military modernization and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns.
We also discussed the role that both our countries can play in supporting the international community on issues such as Iran.
Progress in our defense exchanges will largely depend on the choices we make. I look forward to working with the Minister of Defense and other Chinese leaders to continue building mutual trust and confidence between our two countries.
Finally, I know there is a good deal of interest and concern about the situation in Pakistan, a situation we are watching closely. Pakistan is a country of great strategic importance to the United States and a key partner in the war on terror. However, the actions of the past 72 hours have been disturbing. We urge President Musharraf to return his country to law-based, constitutional and democratic rule as soon as possible. We are reviewing all of our assistance programs, although we are mindful not to do anything that would undermine on-going counterterrorism efforts. Because of the fluid and sensitive nature of the situation, I will have nothing further to say on this topic at this time.
Thank you, Mr. Minister.
MODERATOR: Any questions?
QUESTION: I’m with Xinhua News agency. General Cao please give us an introduction to the specific agreements you have agreed with Secretary Gates during your meeting just now and what specific measures you will endorse.
MINISTER CAO (through interpreter): Just now I have had discussions with Secretary Gates in a candid and friendly atmosphere. We exchanged ideas extensively on regional and international situations, on the friendship and cooperation between the two armed forces, and we also reached agreements on what we had talked about. As for specific products of the meeting, some of them were already mentioned by Secretary Gates. To speak more specifically: First, we have agreed on the establishment of a defense telephone link between the Chinese Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense on which our state leaders also agreed upon in principal. Next, we will both urge the relevant departments to press ahead with the technical consultations and preparations so that the agreement can be finalized in this aspect.
Secondly, we have been thinking and believing it is necessary and important for both of us to engage in exchanges and cooperation in all fields and at all levels, and we exchanged ideas and compared notes on issues that we are both interested in so as to enhance and expand our agreement and consensus on these issues.
We also agreed that the two navies shall conduct a joint exercise with a relatively more complex scenario at an appropriate time.
We also agreed we should have more exchanges in the educational fields so that our young officers and cadets could have more chances to have interactions with each other.
Another thing we agreed is to have better cooperation in the military archives so that we can render help in accounting for U.S. POW/MIA personnel who fought during or after the Korean War.
Overall, we have talked very extensively with very specific projects and results out of the discussion and that is why I described this meeting as friendly and productive.
QUESTION: Sir, I am with PLA Daily. Mr. Gates, [can] you comment on the status quo and the prospects for defense relations between China and the United States?
SECRETARY GATES: I think after our conversations this morning that there are significant opportunities to expand our bilateral military-to-military contacts and relationship in a spirit of candor and honest discussion of the issues on which we are agreed, as well as on those where we have disagreement. I think this is a healthy development, and we look forward to the forward progress of the relationship.
MODERATOR: Any more questions?
QUESTION: Jennifer Griffen with Fox News, (inaudible) in Washington asserted that China’s military build-up indicates an intention to project China’s military power beyond their borders and beyond their territorial waters. What is the intention of this build-up and what does the U.S. expect China’s response to be if the U.S. comes to the defense of Taiwan in a future war? Secretary Gates, what concrete explanations were given to you as to the reasons for China’s military build-up? Would you describe this meeting as the Chinese are being more transparent? Did you receive satisfactory assurances that China will halt weapons sales and missile technology to Iran?
MINISTER CAO (through interpreter): First of all, it has been normal deployments of our own military force in our own territory. China’s policy on Taiwan has been clear cut. We will adhere to the one-country-two-systems and a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. We will do whatever we can in pursuing a peaceful, clear unification of the country on both sides of the Straits. After all, people on both sides of the Straits are Chinese people.
If the Taiwanese authorities stick to its path for independence or de jure independence, separating China and damaging the vital co-interests of China, I think 1.3 billion Chinese people will by no means agree to that. Hence this prospect will be determined by 1.3 billion Chinese people.
And he who obviously hopes for separation of the country will receive historical sin on this aspect and will be cast away by 1.3 billion Chinese people. The Chinese government will act in accordance with the anti-secession law to take any necessary actions to maintain the unification of the country and safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits. Thank you.
SECRETARY GATES: I raised with the Minister our concerns about the pace of China’s strategic modernization, including the anti-satellite test earlier this year. We discussed the value of deeper dialogue on our respective strategic modernization programs and the importance of discussing at greater length and in greater detail nuclear policy, strategy and programs on both sides. This is part of the agreement to deepen the dialogue that we’ve had, and I believe that this will provide the opportunity at least for us to address the issues of transparency that we have discussed in the past. The dialogue, obviously, will be broader than that, but from our standpoint, clearly those are important issues.
With respect to Iran, we discussed the importance of Iran not having nuclear weapons and of there not being a proliferation problem with respect to Iran. We agreed that it is important to pursue efforts to persuade the Iranian government to change their behavior and their policies peacefully, through diplomatic means. I would say I added the importance of continuing an increased economic pressure as a way of persuading the Iranian government to make different choices.
MODERATOR: Last question, please.
QUESTION: For Secretary Gates, you’ve (inaudible) the anti-satellite test. Did you receive any further explanations from the Chinese side of the purpose of this test and, if so, were those explanations satisfactory to you?
For General Cao, your government is an ally of Pakistan, you have some (inaudible) with that government. Do you share the American concern about the declaration of an emergency and what steps are you prepared to take to help resolve this political crisis going down?
SECRETARY GATES: With respect to the anti-satellite test, I raised our concerns about it, and there was no further discussion.
GENERAL CAO (through interpreter): The recent emergency status in Pakistan has drawn world attention. As Pakistan’s friendly neighbor, China is also following the situation closely. [In] the country of Pakistan where social stability and economic growth are in the interest of itself and in the region, we believe that the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people are capable of solving the current problems as soon as possible and overcoming all difficulties that they are experiencing right now, so that Pakistan will resume its economic growth, social stability and good livelihood for its people.
Thank you all.