Archive for the ‘hotline’ Category

Gates, Chinese Leaders Discuss Iran, Make Agreements

November 6, 2007

Ken Fireman 

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — China and the U.S. will set up a military hotline, hold high-level nuclear strategy talks and increase joint exercises, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart, General Cao Gangchuan, said.

The two officials announced the moves today after a meeting in Beijing in which Gates said he pressed Chinese officials, with mixed results, to be more open about the nature and goals of their military modernization program.
 

Google Earth captured an image of the new Chinese ballistic-missile submarine, docked at the Xiaopingdao base south of Dalian. U.S. officials say the new submarines may increase Beijing´s strategic arsenal.
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Gates said the Chinese agreement to deepen discussions on strategic modernization and nuclear strategy “will provide the opportunity, at least, for us to address the issues of transparency that we have discussed in the past.”

The limits of this transparency were highlighted when Gates asked his hosts for an explanation of the shooting down in January of a low-earth-orbit weather satellite, which triggered worries that China could target U.S. military satellites.

“With respect to the anti-satellite test, I raised our concerns about it — and there was no further discussion,” Gates said in response to a question about the issue during a joint news conference with Cao.

Gates said he also talked with Cao about “the uncertainty over China’s military modernization and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns” about it.

Cao, while praising the “candid and friendly” nature of his talks with Gates, dismissed concerns about China’s buildup.

“It has been normal deployment of our own military force in our own territory,” Cao said through an interpreter.

Hotline

The agreement to establish the phone hotline was concluded “in principle,” and some technical issues must be worked out before it becomes operational, Cao said.

Other agreements included a new joint naval exercise, more educational exchanges for young officers and better cooperation between military archivists to resolve questions about missing U.S. soldiers from the Korean War, Cao said.

China is in the midst of a decade-long military modernization drive that has led to concerns on the part of some U.S. officials that China is seeking to change the military balance of power in Asia. It is also accelerating a diplomatic and economic “soft power” offensive throughout the developing world, especially Africa and Latin America.

Gates said last week that he didn’t consider China a military threat to the U.S. at present.

China’s 350 billion yuan ($47 billion) military budget for 2007 is the world’s third biggest, after the U.S. and Japan. U.S. defense officials say China underreports its defense spending by a factor of two or three.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

Other issues discussed today were U.S. concerns about what it calls Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons and China’s distress over what it regards as Taiwan‘s moves toward independence.

While Chinese leaders haven’t yet accepted the need for tougher international economic sanctions on Iran, they were more forthright today than in the past about their thinking on the issue, said a senior U.S. defense official.

The Chinese said they face a dilemma involving their need for access to energy sources on the one hand and their concerns about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Chinese concerns about Taiwan were crystallized by Cao, who told reporters that “anybody who seeks to split Taiwan from the motherland will go down in history as a sinner and will bear the shame of 1.3 billion Chinese people.” He said China will take “necessary actions” to prevent Taiwan’s independence.

Taiwan’s UN Referendum

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian‘s move to hold a referendum on joining the United Nations has angered the Chinese leadership, which calls the vote a step toward permanent separation. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory.

Cao and Gates met on the first day of Gate’s week-long Asia trip. He plans to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao tomorrow and travel later in the week to South Korea and Japan.

In Seoul, Gates will sound out South Korean leaders on the likelihood that the country’s parliament will accept President Roh Moo-Hyun’s proposal to keep half of his country’s 1,200 troops in Iraq for another year.

Gates will end the trip in Tokyo, where he will explore prospects for a resumption of Japanese refueling of U.S. warships in the Indian Ocean to support the war effort in Afghanistan. Japan ended that operation last week because of a parliamentary standoff between ruling and opposition parties.

Japanese leaders in turn are likely to discuss their concerns over the prospect that the U.S. may take North Korea off a list of state sponsors of terrorism before that country resolves a dispute with Japan over the abduction of its citizens.

Another issue likely to arise is the planned relocation of a U.S. air base on Okinawa, to which local communities are objecting for environmental reasons.

To contact the reporter on this story Ken Fireman in Beijing at kfireman1@bloomberg.net .
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Associated Press, November 6, 2007

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart agreed to work  together  to steer Iran away from its nuclear ambitions in talks that  Chinese  President  Hu  Jintao  described  Tuesday  as  “very  candid  and friendly.” 

Gates  agreed  with Hu’s assessment.

Gates and Hu spoke briefly with  reporters  before  they  met  Tuesday morning for a discussion which,  Gates  later  revealed, did not involve Iran.

“The flow of the conversation was  such that we really spent all of our time on our military relationship and Taiwan,” Gates told reporters.

U.S. defense officials, describing  Gates’  meeting  with Cao on condition of anonymity because it was private, said the U.S. delegation was pleased with the quality of the discussion about Iran.

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