- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

HONG KONG.

China and nuclear talks

China is not interested in holding strategic nuclear weapons talks with the United States, and military relations between the two nations generally remain stymied, a senior State Department official said during a visit to this former British colony.

Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, said the United States in the past 10 years has moved forward on a range of dialogues with Beijing on such issues as climate change, human rights, North Korea and Iran.

“Lagging behind that is the dialogue between our two militaries,” Mr. Campbell said after a speech sponsored by the East-West Center. “And lagging further beyond that is a dialogue on nuclear issues.”

The Pentagon’s recent Nuclear Posture Review called for holding high-level talks with China aimed at improving strategic relations. The report said the talks are needed to allay fears in Asia and the United States about China’s strategic intentions.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said he regards strategic nuclear talks with China as potentially similar to the arms talks with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Mr. Campbell said there is a range of reasons for the problem between the two militaries.

“We think one of the things that is most important for the next phase of nuclear diplomacy is to engage more closely with Chinese friends, not just on strategic nuclear issues but greater dialogue and cooperation on proliferation and other matters as well,” Mr. Campbell said.

China’s military cut off ties in October 2008 and again in January to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. However, U.S. officials here said one interesting twist to the most recent Chinese cutoff is that Beijing permitted the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to visit here in February, a signal to U.S. officials that the cutoff in military exchanges is likely to resume soon.

Mr. Campbell said military ties with China “need to be resumed and … they should be regularized.”

“There is a start-stop quality in the past, and we seek to establish a more steady momentum and we believe that an essential missing element in our high-level dialogue has been the military-to-military component,” he said. “And we believe that they should be resumed at the nearest possible time.”

Chinese media control

A Chinese editor who was pressured out of her position last year after reporting on governmental financial corruption said she is not looking back on her departure and doesn’t regard China’s media today as an instrument of the communist state.

Hu Shuli said in her first public speech in Hong Kong that China needs “quality” journalism to expose corruption. Late last year, she resigned from Caijing Monthly (Business and Finance Review) along with most of the rest of the staff. On Tuesday, she declined to say why, citing “complicated” reasons.

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