- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

The Pentagon is resuming limited military exchanges with China, but has no schedule for resuming a high-level strategic dialogue with the Chinese military, a senior defense aide said yesterday.
"It's still case-by-case," said Peter Rodman, the new assistant defense secretary for international security affairs and the man in charge of defense policy toward Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Mr. Rodman said the exchange program, which was cut off during the U.S.-China confrontation over the EP-3E surveillance aircraft, is slowly resuming.
"But we haven't relinquished our right to look at each [exchange] individually and decide if it serves an interest of ours, if there's some balance and reciprocity in the program as a whole," he told reporters at the Pentagon.
Asked if the Pentagon planned to hold the annual U.S.-China defense-consultative talks that were the centerpiece of the Clinton administration's military-engagement effort, Mr. Rodman said: "I don't think a decision has been made at this point" to hold a meeting.
Four of the defense-consultative talks were held in the past to discuss such issues as China's arms sales to rogue states, "transparency" in military activities, and military exchanges.
The Bush administration has not held such a meeting, which were led in the past by the undersecretary of defense and China's military-intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai.
Mr. Rodman said the Pentagon is moving "a little closer" to normalizing military ties in preparation for President Bush's October visit to China.
Other defense officials said the Pentagon is being pressured by the State Department and White House to resume the military-exchange program but is resisting.
Critics of the exchange program have said the Chinese have gained valuable insights into U.S. military planning, war fighting and logistics from the exchanges, while not providing reciprocal insights into China's military.
Mr. Rodman also said there is nothing further to discuss with China on the bill for China's handling of the EP-3E aircraft.
The surveillance aircraft was bumped by a Chinese F-8 interceptor jet over the South China Sea on April 1.
The plane made an emergency landing at China's Hainan island, and the F-8 pilot died after ejecting from his jet.
The U.S. crew was detained by the Chinese military for 12 days and China then forced the United States to dismantle the aircraft and ship it back to the United States, instead of allowing it to be repaired and flown out of the country.
China's government demanded a payment of $1 million and the Pentagon instead offered about $34,000.
"We gave the Chinese an answer," Mr. Rodman said.
"And the Chinese were unhappy with our reply, didn't accept the check. I'm not sure what happens next. I mean, they're asking us to reconsider."
"I think we're comfortable on the answer we gave them, which was well thought out. Really, I'm not sure what happens next. Perhaps it's up to China. I don't know."
Mr. Rodman said he hopes the Chinese "put this episode behind us, you know, and move on to something perhaps more constructive in the relationship."
On a separate issue, Mr. Rodman declined to comment on the 12-member commission of outside experts who found problems with CIA intelligence reporting on China.
Mr. Rodman was a member of the panel that stated recently in a classified final report that it had found an "institutional predisposition" on the part of the CIA's China analysts — a bureaucratic way to say its reporting was biased, according to officials close the agency.
Mr. Rodman said the Bush administration is conducting a review of policy toward Colombia and whether military support should extend beyond drug interdiction to helping Bogota militarily in its fight against leftist guerrillas.
"I think we as a country are not quite sure where we're heading," he said.
"I think there's a consensus that there's an important American interest, but there's not necessarily a consensus about what's the right way to serve that interest."


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