- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday he will not accept China's invitation to visit the country, but will send a representative to discuss resuming military exchanges with the Chinese army.
Mr. Rumsfeld was invited to visit China in May by Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao during Mr. Hu's visit to the Pentagon, a Pentagon official said.
One reason the defense secretary will not go to China is Beijing's handling of the collision between a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese interceptor jet last year, defense officials said.
Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Rodman will leave for Beijing this weekend to hold talks with the Chinese on normalizing the U.S.-Chinese military exchange program, which was put on hold after the April 1, 2001 collision between a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft and Chinese F-8 jet over the South China Sea, defense officials said.
The Chinese jet broke apart, killing its pilot; the damaged EP-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan island. The Chinese military on the island, rather than offer assistance, held the 24 crew members captive for 11 days before releasing them.
Mr. Rumsfeld said Mr. Rodman "will be discussing the military-to-military relationships between our two countries, and he undoubtedly will be discussing things that I've discussed which we feel are interesting and important and potentially mutually beneficial."
The topics will include military exchanges and "such things as transparency and consistency and reciprocity with respect to the military-to-military relationship, things that I discussed with the vice president," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
Critics in Congress have said past military exchanges with China have benefited China's military buildup while offering very little to the U.S. military.
Mr. Rumsfeld's 45-minute meeting at the Pentagon with Mr. Hu last month included discussions about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and military-to-military contacts, a defense official said.
However, the topic of China's buildup of short-range missiles opposite Taiwan was not addressed.
President Bush discussed the Chinese missile buildup during his meeting with Mr. Hu on April 30, according to administration officials.
"The president made clear that we are obligated, under the Taiwan Relations Act, to see that Taiwan can defend itself," the official said.
Pentagon officials have said the missile buildup is "threatening" to Taiwan and poses a danger to sea lanes and ports in the region.
U.S. intelligence agencies have been monitoring the buildup of Chinese CSS-6 and CSS-7 missiles for the past several years.
In April, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that an additional 20 missiles were assembled in Fujian province.
The missile buildup began in the late 1990s, when China had fewer than 50 missiles. Today, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated that there are up to 350 Chinese missiles within striking range of Taiwan.
Mr. Rodman will be visiting Japan and South Korea on his way to China, as part of a Bush administration policy of supporting regional allies.
Larry Wortzel, a former U.S. military attache who was posted in Beijing, said the Chinese are seeking to have U.S. economic sanctions lifted on China that were imposed after the 1989 Chinese military crackdown on unarmed protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
"The Chinese have one big goal," Mr. Wortzel said in an interview. "When [Chinese President] Jiang Zemin comes to the Untied States in October, one of the military objectives is to have all Tiananmen sanctions on military sales lifted."
Congress banned all military sales to China after the massacre of students at Tiananmen.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide