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Remarks by Secretary Gates at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
January 14, 2011

                   MODERATOR:  Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Masayuki Tadokoro, professor of international relations teaching at this university.  Today I have the honor of moderating this session.  

                It is indeed a great pleasure and honor and a privilege to welcome Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to this campus this morning.  It is very well known that the job of secretary of defense of the United States of America is a very heavy responsibility and very demanding job.  According to the website of DOD, which I consulted with yesterday, over the last four years, Secretary Gates has flown nearly 600,000 miles, visited 104 countries, spent 244 days for travel and spent 1,373 hours in the air.  

                These figures clearly demonstrate how extremely difficult for him to find a time slot for addressing students here and how extremely lucky we are to see him taking trouble to address our students.  Therefore, I do not want to waste time by making a lengthy introduction of him.  

                I just want to say a few words.  He is a native of Kansas and he earned first degree in the College William and Mary and master degree from Indiana University in history and Ph.D. in Soviet studies from Georgetown University.  He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 where he spent nearly 27 years in the intelligence profession.  He finally rose to the director of the agency in 1991.  He became secretary of defense in 2006 -- yes, 2006.  That is under the previous administration.  He was appointed by President George Bush and was asked to remain in his office even by the newly elected president, current President Obama, which I understand is rather unusual in American history. 

                Now, I think the -- I just want to say a few words about the organization of this session.  After we listen to the secretary's -- Secretary Gates' address for I expect 15, 20 minutes, we are hoping that we will have still some time left for a few questions and answers.  I encourage the students to ask questions.  Questions can be asked either in Japanese or in English as there is very effective-efficient simultaneous translations are being provided.  However, I ask questions to be concise, to the point and related to security issues.  

                Now, without -- and also, he has to leave at 9:40 at the latest, therefore we have to be very precise in time.  Now, without further ado, may I invite Secretary Gates to the podium?  

                Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Secretary Gates.  (Applause.)  

                SEC. GATES:  Thank you for that kind introduction and thank you to Keio University for all the work you have put into hosting this event– in particular Professor Seike and Professor Kokubun. 

                As a former university president, I always look forward to visiting the academy and hearing from students.  One large similarity between my current responsibilities as U.S. defense secretary and my previous job as president of Texas A&M University is that in both instances I have been responsible for the well-being of large numbers of college-aged men and women.  It is a responsibility I have taken very seriously and continue to take serious today, especially with so much at stake for our young men and women in uniform and for our country. 

                This is my third visit to Japan as secretary of defense and my fourth trip to Asia over the past eight months.  It is a privilege to be the latest in a series of U.S. senior leaders who have visited Japan over the past 12 months, including President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Commerce Secretary Locke, and Energy Secretary Chu.   

                This past year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, as well as the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States.  Notably, one of the younger members of that first Japanese delegation was Fukuzawa Yukichi, the founder of this university.  As you know, Fukuzawa drew on his experience and subsequent visits to the United States to become Japan's preeminent expert on the institutions and values of American democracy, and to shape this great institution of learning. 

                Writing more than a century ago, Fukuzawa saw extraordinary promise in the future bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States.  This promise was tragically interrupted by war, but fulfilled 50 years ago when our two nations forged a partnership that has fostered stability, prosperity, and growing political freedom in Asia for most of the last half century.  

                Ours is an alliance based not just on economic and military necessity, but on shared values with respect to how governments should treat their own people and deal with other nations in the conduct of international affairs; a belief in democratic ideals and the pursuit of peace and prosperity through international norms and organizations, rather than through militarism and coercion. 

                I think it is important to remember those basic truths, indeed the wide, deep and rich array of values and interests that bind our two countries together, especially since news headlines about our alliance are often dominated by difficult issues such as host nation support, the Futenma relocation, and funding for Guam.  

                So what I'd like to do this morning, before taking your questions, is to provide some strategic context to the U.S.-Japan defense partnership. 

                First, I want to discuss the complex array of regional security challenges we face together, and the benefits of addressing those challenges between and among nations of shared interests.  And second, I want to explain the ways the U.S.-Japan defense relationship -- partnership must adapt to meet those challenges, to include modernizing the alliance's military capabilities and basing arrangements. 

                Over the course of its history, the U.S.-Japan alliance has succeeded at its original core purpose: to deter military aggression and provide an umbrella of security under which Japan -- and the region -- can prosper.  Today, our alliance is growing deeper and broader as we address a range of security challenges in Asia.  Some, like North Korea, piracy or natural disasters, have been around for decades, centuries, or since the beginning of time.  Others, such as global terrorist networks, cyberattacks, and nuclear proliferation are of more recent vintage.  What these issues have in common is that they all require multiple nations working together, and they also almost always require leadership and involvement by key regional players such as the U.S. and Japan.  

                In turn, we express our shared values by increasing our alliance's capacity to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, take part in peacekeeping operations, protect the global commons, and promote cooperation and build trust through strengthening regional institutions. 

                Everyone gathered here knows the crippling devastation that can be caused by natural disasters, and the U.S. and Japan, along with our partners in the region, recognize that responding to these crises is a security imperative.  In recent years, U.S. and Japanese forces delivered aid to remote earthquake-stricken regions in Indonesia, and U.S. aircraft based in Japan helped deliver assistance to typhoon victims in Burma.  We worked together in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, earthquakes in Java, Sumatra, and Haiti, and most recently following the floods in Pakistan.  These efforts have demonstrated the forward deployment of U.S. forces on Japan is of real and life-saving value.  They also provide new opportunities for the U.S. and Japanese forces to operate together by conducting joint exercises and missions. 

                Furthermore, U.S. and Japanese troops have also been working on the global stage to confront the threat of failed or failing states.  Japanese peacekeepers have operated around the world, including the Golan Heights and East Timor and assisted with reconstruction in Iraq.  In Afghanistan, Japan represents the second largest financial donor, making substantive contributions to the international effort by funding salaries of the Afghan National Police and helping the Afghan government integrate former insurgents.   

                Furthermore, Japan and the United States also continue to cooperate closely to ensure the maritime commons are safe and secure for commercial traffic.  Our maritime forces work hand-in-glove in the Western Pacific as well as in other vital sea passages such as the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, where more than a third of the world's oil and trade shipments pass through every year.  Around the Horn of Africa, Japan has deployed surface ships and patrol aircraft that operate alongside those from all over the world, drawn by the common goal to counter piracy in vital sea lanes. 

                Participating in these activities thrusts Japan's military into a relatively new and at times sensitive role as an exporter of security.  This is a far cry from the situation of even two decades ago when, as I remember well as a senior national security official, Japan was criticized for so-called checkbook diplomacy -- sending money but not troops -- to help the anti-Saddam coalition during the First Gulf War. 

                By showing more willingness to send self-defense forces abroad under international auspices -- consistent with your constitution -- Japan is taking its rightful place alongside the world's other great democracies.  That is part of the rationale for Japan's becoming a permanent member of a reformed United Nations Security Council. 

                And since these challenges cannot be tackled through bilateral action alone, we must use the strong U.S.-Japanese partnership as a platform to do more to strengthen multilateral institutions -- regional arrangements that must be inclusive, transparent, and focused on results.  

                Just a few months ago, I attended the historic first meeting of the ASEAN Plus Eight Defense Ministers Meeting in Hanoi, and I'm encouraged by Japan's decision to co-chair the Military Medicine Working Group.  And as a proud Pacific nation, the United States will take over the chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum this year, following Japan's successful tenure.  

                Working through regional and international forums puts our alliance in the best position to confront some of Asia's toughest security challenges.  As we've been reminded once again in recent weeks, none has proved to be more vexing and enduring than North Korea.  

                Despite the hopes and best efforts of the South Korean government, the U.S. and our allies and the international community, the character and priorities of the North Korean regime sadly have not changed.  North Korea's ability to launch another conventional ground invasion is much degraded from even a decade ago, but in other respects it has grown more lethal and more destabilizing.  

                Today, it is North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of nuclear know-how and ballistic missile equipment that have focused our attention, developments that threaten not just the peninsula, but the Pacific Rim and international stability as well. 

                In response to a series of provocations -- the most recent being the sinking of the Cheonan and North Korea's lethal shelling of a South Korean island -- Japan has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea and the United States.  Our three countries continue to deepen our ties through the Defense Trilateral Talks, the kind of multilateral engagement among America's long-standing allies that the U.S. would like to see strengthened and expanded over time. 

                When and if North Korea's behavior gives us any reasons to believe that negotiations can be conducted productively and in good faith, we will work with Japan, South Korea, Russia, and China to resume engagement dialogue with North Korea through the six party talks.  

                The first step in the process should be North-South engagement.  But to be clear, the North must also take concrete steps to honor its international obligations and comply with U.N. Security Council Resolutions. 

                Any progress towards defusing the crisis on the Korean Peninsula must include the active support of the People's Republic of China, where, as you probably know, I just finished an official visit.  China has been another important player whose economic growth has fueled prosperity in this part of the world, but questions about its intentions and opaque military modernization program have been a source of concern to its neighbors.

                Questions about China's growing role in the region manifest themselves in territorial disputes, most recently in the incident in September near the Senkaku Islands, an incident that served as a reminder of the importance of America's and Japan's treaty obligations to one another.  The U.S. position on maritime security remains clear: we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, in unimpeded economic development and commerce, and in respect for international law.  We also believe that customary international law, as reflected in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, provides clear guidance on the appropriate use of the maritime domain, and rights of access to it. 

                Nonetheless, I disagree with those who portray China as an inevitable strategic adversary of the United States.  We welcome a China that plays a constructive role on the world stage.  In fact, the goal of my visit was to improve our military-to-military relationship and outline areas of common interest.  It is precisely because we have questions about China's military -- just as they might have similar questions about the United States -- that I believe a healthy dialogue is needed. 

                Last fall, President Obama and President Hu Jin Tao made a commitment to advance sustained and reliable defense ties, not a relationship repeatedly interrupted and subject to the vagaries of political weather.  

                On a personal note, one of the things I learned from my experience dealing with the Soviet Union during my earlier time in government was the importance of maintaining a strategic dialogue and open lines of communication.  Even if specific agreements did not result -- on nuclear weapons or anything else -- this dialogue helped us understand each other better and lessen the odds of misunderstandings and miscalculation.  The Cold War is mercifully long over and the circumstances with China today are vastly different -- but the importance of maintaining dialogue is as important today.  

                For the last few minutes I've discussed some of the most pressing security challenges along with the most fruitful areas of regional cooperation facing the U.S. and Japan in Asia.  This environment, in terms of threats and opportunities, is markedly different than the conditions that led to the forging of the U.S-Japanese defense partnership in the context of a rivalry between two global superpowers.  

                But on account of the scope, complexity and lethality of these challenges, I would argue that our alliance is more necessary, more relevant, and more important than ever.  And maintaining the vitality and credibility of the alliance requires modernizing our force posture and other defense arrangements to better reflect the threats and military requirements of this century. 

                For example, North Korea's ballistic missiles, along with the proliferation of these weapons to other countries, require a more effective alliance missile defense capability.  The U.S.-Japan partnership in missile defense is already one of the most advanced of its kind in the world.  It was American and Japanese AEGIS ships that together monitored the North Korean missile launches of 2006 and 2008.  

                This partnership, which relies on mutual support, cutting-edge technology, and information sharing in many ways reflect our alliance at its best.  The U.S. and Japan have nearly completed the joint development of a new advanced interceptor, a system that represents a qualitative improvement in our ability to thwart any North Korean missile attack.  The co-location of our air and missile-defense commands at Yokota and the associated opportunities for information sharing, joint training, and coordination in this area provides enormous value to both countries.  

                As I alluded to earlier, advances by the Chinese military in cyber and anti-satellite warfare pose a potential challenge to the ability of our forces to operate and communicate in this part of the Pacific.  Cyberattacks can also come from any direction and from a variety of sources -- state, non-state, or a combination thereof -- in ways that could inflict enormous damage to advanced, networked militaries and societies.  Fortunately, the U.S. and Japan maintain a qualitative edge in satellite and computer technology, an advantage we are putting to good use in developing ways to counter threats to the cyber and space domains. 

                Just last month, the government of Japan took another step forward in the evolution of the alliance by releasing its "National Defense Program Guidelines" -- a document that lays out a vision for Japan's defense posture.  These guidelines envision a more mobile and deployable force structure; enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities; and a shift in focus to Japan's southwest islands.   

                These new guidelines provide an opportunity for even deeper cooperation between our two countries and the emphasis on your southwestern islands underscores the importance of our alliance force posture. 

                And this is a key point.  Because even as the alliance continues to evolve in strategy, posture and military capabilities to deal with this century's security challenges, a critical component will remain the forward presence of U.S. military forces in Japan.  Without such a presence North Korea's military provocations could be even more outrageous or worse.  China might behave more assertively towards its neighbors.  It would take longer to evacuate civilians affected by conflict or natural disasters in the region.  It would be more difficult and costly to conduct robust joint exercises, such as the recent Keen Sword exercise, that hone the U.S. and Japanese militaries' ability to operate and, if necessary, fight together.  And without the forward presence of U.S. forces in Japan, there would be less information sharing and coordination and we would know less about regional threats and the military capabilities of our potential adversaries.  

                Given its importance to our alliance, we are pleased to have come to an agreement on host nation support, Japan's contribution to the financial cost of our shared defense efforts.  This support is a tangible sign of Japan's commitment to our security relationship and it enables the U.S. to continue deploying our most advanced military capabilities in your defense.  We are committed in return to using these funds efficiently, effectively, and transparently.  As part of our Green Alliance agenda, we will together explore ways to make the U.S. military presence more environmentally friendly. 

                The Realignment Roadmap issued five years ago was designed to modernize our presence by updating U.S. basing arrangements the most significant being the relocation of the Air Station Futenma.  Communities that host our bases make critical contributions to Japan's security and peace in the region, but we are constantly seeking ways to reduce the impact the U.S. military activity imposes on the local populations.  

                The Futenma relocation plan will return land and facilities to the Okinawan people, move thousands of U.S. troops and their dependents out of the most densely populated southern part of the island, and move the air station to the less populated north.  As a result, after the relocation is completed, the average citizen of Okinawa will see and hear far fewer U.S. troops and aircraft than they do today.  

                Finally, as our alliance grows and deepens further still, it will be important for Japan to take on even greater regional and global leadership roles that reflects its political, economic and military capacity.  In the United States we are engaged in a robust debate about the size, composition and cost of our military.  Even as President Obama has committed the U.S. to a strategy of engagement and cooperation with special emphasis on Asia, we will continue to maintain the military strength necessary to protect our interests, defend our allies, and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation.  To do this we need a committed and capable security partner in Japan. 

                I would close by noting that the world has changed to a truly remarkable extent since our partnership was first forged.  Just as no one in 1960 could have predicted the need for cyber-security or the challenges of a truly global economic order, we can't know with certainty what next threats and opportunities our nations will face. 

                Shortly after it was signed at the White House, President Dwight Eisenhower hailed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security as the fulfillment of a goal to establish an indestructible partnership between our two countries.  I would say that over the last 50 years we have been faithful to that vision.  And whatever the next 50 years hold, I'm certain that our alliance will remain an indestructible force for stability, a pathway for promoting our shared values, and a foundation upon which to build an ever-more interconnected and peaceful international order.  

                Thank you.  (Applause.) 

                MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, Secretary Gates.  Now we still do have about 20 minutes and with your permission, I think I'm going to take a few questions from the floor.  

                Those of you who want to ask questions please raise your hands and go to the microphone.  

                Okay.  So the lady over there first and then there, there, second, and then there, third.  And fourth is over there.  And I close by fifths and if by some luck you may have another round.  All right.  So please come to the microphone immediately and line up there.  And without wasting time, you can go ahead.  Please identify yourself before you ask questions please. 

                Q:  Thank you very much for today's speech.  I'm a third grade student in Keio University in the Lawyer Faculty.  Sorry.  Which case would be more threatening to U.S. policy: first, Japanese remobilization without U.S. alliance or, two, Chinese further development in major technology? 

                SEC. GATES:  Well, I think that, first of all, we will see China further developing technology, both for economic purposes, but also for military purposes.  We've just seen earlier this week a demonstration of advances in Chinese technology in the test flight of their J-20 stealth aircraft.  So I think this is inevitable and the truth is most countries will continue to advance in their technology as well, including the United States. 

                I think that the experience of the past 50 years has demonstrated the value of the partnership between the United States and Japan and were -- just among other things, were Japan to decide to go at it alone, believe me, the costs of its defense would rise dramatically.  Because of our alliance, Japan has been secure against foreign threats for over half a century at a cost of less than 1 percent of its GDP.  I would say in economic terms this alliance has been a very good deal for Japan.  

                And I think that there are also larger strategic issues that make clear that our partnership makes the two of us far stronger together than either of us would be operating independently.  So I think that for a variety of both strategic and economic reasons this alliance makes a lot of sense. 

                MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  The second question.  Do you speak in English or in Japanese?  English?  Okay. 

                Q:  Mr. Gates, thank you very much for today's lecture.  I have three questions which I would like Mr. Gates to answer.  You have mentioned that it is wrong for America to take hostile attitude towards China.  My first question is in what concrete aspects would it be possible to reach cordial agreements with the Chinese authority?  

                My second question is in what points would it be impossible for the United States to compromise, since the United States and China are quite different to each other in terms of political system, sense of values and governance?  It has been pointed out that harmonization is very much limited.  

                My final question is, would harmonization be really practical? 

                SEC. GATES:  I'm sorry.  What was the third question? 

                Q:  First?  Second? 

                SEC. GATES:  Third. 

                Q:  Third.  Since the United States and China are quite different to each other in terms of political systems, sense of values and governance, it has been pointed out that harmonization is very much limited.  My question is, would harmonization be really practical? 

                SEC. GATES:  Well, first of all, I think there already have been a number of agreements between the United States and China over the years going back to the time of normalization.  We have cooperated in certain security arenas, particularly when the Soviet Union was still in existence.  Clearly we have a very close and huge economic relationship.  There are an extraordinary number of Chinese students studying in the United States and there are very close ties between many United States universities and their counterparts in China.  

                So I think there's a wide range -- a wide array of relationships between the United States and China that underpin the relationship between the two countries and provide opportunities for us to get to know each other better and also to cooperate in a number of areas. 

                When I was in China, we looked at areas where we could work together, where even our militaries could work together and agreed that we would pursue joint efforts in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, in counterterrorism, in counter-piracy and in dealing with some of these other challenges that these nations all face in common.  

                And while we don't have a formal agreement, I think it is apparent, as I said yesterday, that the United States and China, along with Japan and South Korea and Russia, very much have in common the need for stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and have worked together to bring about that goal and will continue to do so. 

                Areas where it's impossible to compromise, I would say one area that has been a fundamental principle for the United States of America virtually since its founding is the freedom of navigation, the freedom of the global commons for commerce and trade and for shipping.  And we feel very strongly about this.  This is a common principle that is enshrined in the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty.  And it is an area where I think there is very broad agreement among nations.  So I would give that as an example where it would be very difficult for us to compromise.  

                I think there are always opportunities for nations that have different economic and political systems to cooperate and to work together.  I think that we saw a lot of areas of cooperation, particularly in the 1980s and the 1990s, even between the United States and the Soviet Union in trying to deal with common problems and in trying to reduce the level of nuclear weapons and get better control of regional conflicts.  

                So I think that there is -- the fact that two countries have different political -- and particularly different political systems is no obstacle to a harmonious relationship.  And I think what we all work for is to ensure that those kinds of relationships are strengthened and expanded to the extent we possibly can.  

                MODERATOR:  All right.  Next time, but don't ask three questions, just one, right? 

                Q:  Okay.  

                MODERATOR:  Go ahead.  

                Q:  Thank you for today's opportunity.  My name is Katsuya Nagano from the Faculty of Law.  Since you mentioned about outlining common interests and sustaining and constructing the relationship with China, I would like to ask you how you are looking at the current situation of China's civilian control over its army.  And I ask this question because if truly the civilian leaders, including President Hu, had no prior intel on the test flights of the stealth fighters, then doesn't that represent the opaqueness and the prominence of China's military, even within its own country, as it is to the world?  Would you remind sharing your perspective? 

                SEC. GATES:  This is an area where over the last several years we have seen some signs of -- I guess I would call it a disconnect between the military and the civilian leadership.  We think that the civilian leadership was not aware of the aggressive approach by Chinese ships to the U.S.'s Navy ship Impeccable two or three years ago.  We think that -- our information is that the civilian leadership may not have known about the anti-satellite test that was conducted about three years ago.  And as I indicated yesterday, there were pretty clear indications that they were unaware of the flight test of the F-35 -- of the J-20, rather. 

                I think that part of this, based on my experience, very long experience in government, is -- can be explained by bureaucratic mistakes.  There have been more than a few occasions when the United States military was conducting an exercise or carrying out an activity, and not sensitive to the fact that a foreign visitor might be in Washington at the same time.  But on the whole, I do think that this is something that is a worry. 

                And one of the reasons why I have pressed so hard for there to be a deeper, senior-level civilian-military dialogue with both civilian and military representatives from both sides, from both countries is that we have no forum right now on security issues or military issues that includes senior civilians and military.  And I think that, one of the questions I was asked by the Chinese is, how do you differentiate this from all of the other mechanisms for dialogue in the military-to-military arena?  And my argument back was this would be -- this is -- this would be the only one where senior civilians and military are sitting together.  And I think that has great benefit. 

                And I think that -- you know, I don't -- I don't question the party's control of the PLA military or of the PLA.  I have no doubts about the fact that President Hu Jintao is in command and in charge.  But I just know from our own system at times there are disconnects between military information flowing to our civilian leaders.  Frankly, this has been one of the benefits over the decades for the United States of the National Security Council and the National Security Council staff, where the civilian and military sides of the government are brought together routinely and where information about military operations is shared in detail not just with the White House, but also with the State Department.  So we are tied closely together. 

                So I think there are opportunities in this dialogue to advance that kind of civilian-military cooperation.  And I think it would also enhance military-to-military relationships. 

                MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  The next one? 

                Q:  My name is Mitsuhiro Watanabe from Faculty of Policy Management.  My question is, considering the Japan's new defense strategy that was published last year, I want to know, what is the role of Japan?  And what do you exactly expect from Japanese government about the Air Sea Battle Concept?  Thank you. 

                SEC. GATES:  Well, first of all, we are fully cognizant of the terms of Japan's constitution, and that that imposes limits in terms of what the self-defense forces can do.  By the same token, as I mentioned in my remarks, one of the things that we have applauded has been the growing willingness of the Japanese government to employ its military capabilities under international auspices for peacekeeping and counterpiracy and dealing with some of these other issues.  These are the kinds of responsibilities great powers must assume. 

                I think that our close working relationship, the exercises we do together clearly are in the framework of the defense of Japan and allowing us to be able to fulfill our obligations under the mutual security treaty.  Clearly, over the years we have discussed on many occasions with the Japanese whether the limits of the constitution extend, for example, to if U.S. and Japanese forces are exercising or operating together, and the U.S. forces are attacked, do the -- do the Japanese forces come to their assistance?  And frankly, we're still working through some of these issues. 

                But I think this is the value of the dialogue we have.  Our relationship with the Japanese self-defense forces has gotten better and better every single year, and frankly has, I think, improved fairly dramatically in recent years.  And we'll continue working together.  So our expectations of Japan is, first of all, that they will do what is necessary in terms of their own interests to defend Japan.  But we also welcome their broader interpretation of Japan's international responsibilities as well. 

                MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I am afraid that this is going to be the final question, as time runs out, so I am sorry for the rest of you, but you are the last. 

                Okay. 

                Q:  Thank you.  Thank you for the opportunity.  I want to ask you about the gap between the Chinese military, PLA, and political leaders.  And there's arguments about -- I mean, the --America's -- United States' foreign strategy caused that gap.  And some people believe that America is one of main causes of the -- creating the gap.  I would like to ask how you think about this. 

                SEC. GATES:  Well, I wish we had that much influence.  (Laughter.)  The -- I think the United States has -- to the degree that there is some kind of a gap, I can assure you that we have had no role in creating it, and see it in our interest to close it.  But this is a matter -- this is an internal matter for the Chinese.  And as I indicated earlier, although on some specific operational issues, there -- we think there have been some communication gaps, in the larger sense of who controls the Chinese military and who has the ultimate authority, there is no doubt in my mind that it is President Hu Jintao and the civilian leadership of that government. 

                So -- but I think that the dialogue that I'm talking about and that I proposed to the Chinese has the potential to reduce the chances of miscommunications, as well as deal with some of the larger issues that we've been talking about, whether it's freedom of navigation or technological developments and capabilities.  But I just want to underscore I believe we've seen instances where specific events took place where the Chinese civilian leadership may not have known about them in advance.  But in terms of overall control of the Chinese military forces, I have no doubt whatsoever that President Hu and the civilian leadership are fully in command. 

                Thank you very much. 

                MODERATOR:  Thank you very much indeed.