On a visit to China, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and agreed to upgrade military ties. Mr. Rumsfeld said he believed it is in the interest of the U.S. and China to improve their military relationship, and that his visit will become “part of a pattern” of top U.S. officials engaging Chinese leaders on economic, political, and military issues.
President George W. Bush is scheduled to visit China in November. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld told a group of senior officers at the Chinese Military Academy that China should provide more information about its defense program. “China. . . .is expanding its missile forces and enabling those forces to reach many areas of the world, well beyond the Pacific region,” he said. “Those advances in China’s strategic strike capability raise questions, particularly when there is an imperfect understanding about such developments on the part of others.”
Mr. Rumsfeld also spoke to students at the Chinese Central Party School in Beijing, where the country’s communist leaders are trained. He called on China to become more open politically, and to play a larger role in tackling the world’s problems. China’s long-term economic growth, he said, could depend on China’s willingness to accept greater democracy, and to do more to help combat terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disease, and other threats that cross national borders.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that China’s lack of openness contributes to suspicions about its intentions. “[I]t raises some questions about whether China will make the right choices – choices that will serve the world’s interests in regional peace and stability,” he said. “China’s future prosperity, and to some degree the future of other nations’ attitudes [about China], may well depend on internal political events here.” Mr. Rumsfeld said the U.S. hopes China will choose a course that would allow both countries to work together with “mutual respect and friendship.”
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld described the U.S.-China relationship as “a complex one, with its share of challenges.” But he said that he came away from his visit with the sense that China wants to “find activities and ways we can work with each other that will contribute to demystifying what we see of them and what they see of us.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.